Journal of Research in Technical Careers


career academies, career and technical education, small learning communities, school restructuring, educational leadership


Educational Leadership | Vocational Education


The purpose of this study was to explore how a career academy featuring an information technology (IT) theme approached the adoption of the model and the particular curricular focus. We used a case study design to explore the experiences of school personnel and community partners associated with the implementation of the career academy. We found that growing enrollment in the local district was a major driver to pursue small school designs as an alternative to the traditional high school comprehensive model. The small school size associated with small learning communities was valued by stakeholders and used to adopt and implement a career academy around a technology curricular theme. Another factor in the adoption decision was the availability of existing building infrastructure in the community. While the premises of the career academy model appeared to be a good fit in the district and community, we also found that good intentions are not enough to guarantee consistent fidelity throughout the career academy implementation. When new crises arise, input from all stakeholders may be shortchanged and decisions can turn into a top-down approach.