All-Academy Model
All-Academy Model

The Career Academy Model: It's Unique

Originated by the Philadelphia Academies, Inc. (PAI) in 1969 as a solution to the drop-out crisis, the career academy model focuses on experiential learning, relevance and application. It seeks to:

  • Organize young people and teachers into small schools within schools focused on delivering industry-themed content that helps students explore and master real world skills.
  • Provide work-based learning and college prep experiences throughout young people’s high school careers.
  • Introduce and support a network of positive professional adults for whom young people can learn.

The model is now in 7,000 high schools across the country. It has primed thousands of students for success through industry- driven instruction, workplace exposure and post-secondary educational preparation; and created a network of adults who take an active approach to providing the type of education young people want and employers need.


Our Priorities: We Build on School Assets

People: We support school leaders in the creation of effective teams to lead their own school transformation, and build a school environment that reflects high expectations, industry involvement and college opportunity.

Process: To start school transformation, we help teachers understand the model’s National Standards of Practice by visiting model communities. Once schools are ready, we focus with teachers to create structures and processes that follow the model with fidelity. With initial PAI coaching schools create daily common planning times, data walls, and new student/teacher schedules for small learning communities. Ongoing professional development and annual assessments help schools stay on track and revise goals.

Place: We work with our partner schools to make classrooms vibrant with real world learning opportunities, personalized education, and many opportunities to build their own professional networks. We train an annual cohort of career academy ambassadors who work with the school leadership to create school spirit (and events) for their peers, acquaint guests to the model, and provide student voice to the model.

Our schools partners include:

  • Abraham Lincoln High School
  • Audenreid Charter High School
  • Benjamin Franklin High School
  • George Washington High School
  • Kensington International Business High School
  • Mastbaum High School
  • Parkway West High School
  • Paul Robeson High School
  • Roxborough High School
  • South Philadelphia High School
  • Swenson Arts and Technology High School

Change that Lasts

Key Findings from Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation’s 14-year randomized controlled study of over 1,700 career academy students across the country:

  • Career academy students’ attendance and graduation rates rose when teachers and schools used the model elements with fidelity.
  • Career academies produced sustained earning gains that averaged 11 percent (or $2,088) more per year for Academy group members than for individuals in the non-Academy group.
  • Labor market impacts were concentrated among young men of color.
  • Career academies produced an increase in the percentage of young people living independently with children and a spouse or partner. Young men of color also experienced positive impacts on marriage and being custodial parents.
PAI: We’re Different

We are not a school.
As a nonprofit youth development provider, we use our 45+ years of programming expertise and implementation best practices to support the All Academy High School initiative with partner schools. And, as a member of the Philadelphia Council for College and Success, we are leading the city’s effort to scale up this effective model so that ultimately 12,000 young people can benefit from the model within our city’s school.