The Career-College Blend: Two Schools Where It Works
Polytech High School, Woodside, Delaware
Students in this magnet career technical high school engage in
a rigorous college-preparatory curriculum and learn under the
motto, “Power of knowledge for work and/or college.” The
school serves more than 1,100 students, of whom 71 percent
are white, 22 percent are black, and 22 percent are eligible for
free or reduced-price lunch.
Polytech is composed of five academies: the Educational
Foundations Academy for freshmen as well as four career-themed academies that focus on industry, technology, professional services, and health care. Incoming students explore
21 different technical concentrations and undergo a formal
interview to gain acceptance to their chosen concentration.
Over the next three years, students follow a prescribed course
plan. By graduation, they gain skills in a high-demand career
area and, in some cases, also earn a professional certification
(for example, automotive service excellence [ASE] certification
or certified nurse’s assistant [CNA] certification).
The school also focuses heavily on college preparation.
It’s the only technical school in Delaware to offer advanced
placement courses. The school’s graduation requirements
exceed Delaware’s curriculum standards, with additional credits
required in a technical concentration area. Consequently,
Polytech has the highest
number of required
credits in the state.
Sammamish Senior High School, Bellevue, Washington
Sammamish Senior High School’s mission is to prepare all
students for postsecondary success, and the school expects
all students to complete an advanced placement (AP) course
before graduation. This comprehensive public high school
serves 1,200 students. Thirty-four percent of students qualify
for free or reduced-price lunch. Thirty-two percent of students
speak a first language other than English, and students from
ethnic minorities represent approximately 40 percent of the
The district has
what amounts to a
default college-preparatory program
for all students. The
curriculum development team has
worked in partnership
with outside experts,
district officials, and
teachers to design
a curriculum that
is aligned with AP
Baccalaureate requirements. Curriculum coaches work directly
with teachers to implement and periodically evaluate the
curriculum, and teachers take an active role in improving and
adding to the curriculum through an online system known as
the Curriculum Web.
In 2010, Sammamish High School received a U.S.
Department of Education Investment in Innovation grant. One
objective of this initiative is to raise the level of rigor in the
curriculum by connecting students with local professionals
in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The
initiative uses problem-based performance assessments in
both AP and non-AP courses to support and measure student
growth; provides supports for struggling students, with a particular focus on increased mathematics literacy; and offers
professional development for teachers implementing a rigorous
The four guidance counselors and support staff at Sammamish Senior High School play a key role in helping students
understand college readiness, develop an academic plan,
prepare and register for the PSAT/SAT and AP exams, research
career options, and apply to colleges or technical schools. The
graduation rate at Sammamish is 91 percent, and approximately
85 percent of graduates matriculate to a two- or four-year
college or university.