Transition From School to Work:

States Are Developing New Strategies to Prepare Students for Jobs

HRD-93-139: Published: Sep 7, 1993. Publicly Released: Sep 7, 1993.

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Linda G. Morra
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the school-to-work transition problem in the United States, focusing on: (1) state progress in implementing comprehensive school-to-work transition strategies; and (2) possible federal policy options for assisting such strategies.

GAO found that: (1) most analyses of school-to-work transition problems are too limited in scope; (2) sound transition strategies require a comprehensive approach that includes developing all students' academic and occupational competencies, career education and development, extensive links between schools and employers, and meaningful work-place experiences for all students; (3) four states have begun implementing comprehensive transition strategies and 9 states are considering such strategies; (4) state progress is limited due to the newness of their programs; (5) most school districts are focusing on developing academic and occupational competencies; (6) obstacles to implementing transition strategies include labor laws, state regulations, federal grant program targeting provisions, uncertain state funding, employer reluctance to hire youth, universities' nonacceptance of work-oriented academic class credits, school scheduling practices, lack of information collection and dissemination, parents' aversion to work-oriented programs, and lack of career-path jobs in some regions; and (7) the federal government could assist state programs by collecting and disseminating lessons-learned information and permitting more flexible use of grant funds.

Matters for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Section 404 of the School-to-Work Opportunities Act (P.L. 103-239) says that the Secretaries of Education and Labor will collect and disseminate information on: (1) successful School-to-Work Opportunities Program and innovative school- and work-based curricula; (2) research and evaluation conducted concerning school-to-work activities; and (3) methods for recruiting and building the capacity of employers to provide work-based learning opportunities.

    Matter: If Congress wishes to support school-to-work transition strategies, it may wish to consider encouraging the administration to disseminate information on lessons learned in various state and local initiatives.

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Secretary of Education way waive any requirement under any provision of law in certain sections under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the Carl D. Perkins Act. The Secretary of Labor can waive certain provisions under the Job Training Partnership Act (Sections 502 and 503 of P.L. 103-239). Section 402 calls for evaluation of performance outcomes such as academic learning gains staying in school and attainment of strong experience in work experiences, placement and retention in further education or training, and job placement -- all meaningful outcomes for school-to-work transition.

    Matter: Congress may wish to consider encouraging greater use of existing program funds in school-to-work transition strategies, including authorizing waivers to permit use of existing funds in comprehensive school-to-work transition efforts. However, for maximum effect, any funds made available should be only for comprehensive school-to-work transition efforts, and funds for evaluations should be for studies designed to measure meaningful outcomes.


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