What Difference Does It Make If School and Work are Connected? Evidence on Co-operative Education in the United States

D. Stern, N. Finkelstein, M. Urquiola, H. Cagampang

Recent policies have promoted work-based learning as part of the curriculum. Many students in the U.S. already work in part-time jobs, but spending a lot of hours per week in after-school jobs has been found to detract from students' performance in school. Co-operative education (co-op) ties work to school, usually as part of vocational education. A new longitudinal dataset reveals that the negative association between hours worked and GPA is less strong for high school students in co-op than in non-school-supervised jobs. High school co-op also leads to higher wages soon after graduation, mainly because (1) co-op students are less likely to enroll in higher education and (2) recent graduates who are enrolled in higher education earn lower wages than those who work full-time. In addition, tying co-op to a curriculum that integrates academic and vocational education might produce better results. This article is reprinted from the 1997 issue of Economics of Education Review.

MDS-1236 / October 1998

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