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Study on NYC Magnet Schools Shows Positive Findings

A new study from the National Center for Research in Vocational Education (NCRVE), for which the lead author is Professor Robert Crain, indicates positive results for graduates of New York City academic career magnet schools. These programs offer college preparatory courses and vocationally oriented classes focused on a broad career theme.

Most significantly, academic career magnet graduates report that they smoke less, drink less, study more, and have lower pregnancy rates. In addition, compared to graduates of comprehensive high schools, academic career magnet graduates earn at least a third more college credits and are more likely to have chosen a college major within two years of graduation. These successes hinge, the NCRVE study's authors argue, on the schools' ability to help students through the process of adolescent identity development. The one negative finding is an important one: career magnets have a higher dropout rate than comprehensive high schools.

Crain notes, "If the dropout rate can be lowered, career magnets may prove to be an ideal strategy for urban high schools. They have been able to introduce the career focus and all its attendant benefits on adolescent development without test scores declining. And by promising both college and career, career magnets allow students to make a choice without foreclosing their options."

Many of the conclusions of the NCRVE study are based on a comparison of a large number of students who had been randomly assigned through a lottery to magnet programs and to comprehensive schools.

The Effects of Academic Career Magnet Education includes essays by seven researchers. The Institute on Education and the Economy at Teachers College is one of the members of the NCRVE consortium. For more information about the Institute, visit its Web site at http://www.tc.columbia.edu/~iee/

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