by Damaris Moore
School-based enterprise (SBE) has become an increasingly popular way for schools to offer an in-house version of work-based learning. The first excerpt presented below offers a strong argument for contextual learning such as that offered by SBEs, by contrasting the ways schools measure knowledge with the ways knowledge is successfully used outside school. The excerpt from NCRVE's just-published Who's Minding the Store? A guide for educators working with school-based enterprises describes the goals and organization of this comprehensive SBE curriculum module. Finally, the third report weighs the advantages of firm-based and school-sponsored forms of work-based learning.
This paper is an interpretive synthesis of the research of NCRVE on workforce development reforms--including cognitive apprenticeship, tech prep, integrated vocational and academic education, career magnet schools, academies, cooperative education, and school-based enterprise.
Schools routinely fail to reflect the knowledge and skills needed in the workplace or the contexts of their use, and this is true not only of K-12, but of professional schools as well. Resnick (1987) points to contrasts between in-school and out-of-school mental activity that raise fundamental questions about the utility and effectiveness of schooling as currently practiced for all nonschool activity, including work. The indictment applies more to academic than to vocational education.
Who's Minding the Store offers a ready-to-use curriculum module to guide a class through the development and maintenance of a school-based enterprise. With numerous tools and exercises, this guide shows educators how to run a school-based enterprise that is profitable from the perspective of both money and learning.
This Guide is intended for use by educators who are working with school-based enterprises (SBEs) or contemplating the establishment of an SBE in their school. It seeks to help schools, students, and teachers develop enterprises that:
The Guide provides tools and strategies that should help teachers answer two essential questions:
One strategy recommended for starting and operating SBEs that meet these objectives is the entrepreneurial approach. Broadly defined, entrepreneurship is the ability to see and seize opportunities. Entrepreneurial preparation contributes both to the success of the enterprise and the quality of the learning experience for students.
This entrepreneurial preparation is necessary for educators as well as students. Section I of the Guide suggests steps that educators can take to help their enterprise--an SBE integrated with the school's curriculum--succeed within the school setting.
Section II describes ways to incorporate planning into setting up an SBE. The business planning process guides students and teachers through the research and investigation needed to create a viable business which meets a need in the school or surrounding community. The business plan also serves as a "road map" for an enterprise, so that those running it can check--and learn from--their progress. Finally, the business plan is one important way to ensure that the SBE is not just another job for students, but a learning laboratory where students use writing, mathematics, social studies, and critical thinking to research and use their business plan.
This paper contrasts two types of work-based learning: "learn-and-stay," which prepares for specific occupations or industries, and "learn-and-go," which develops more broadly transferable knowledge and skills. Stern argues that school-sponsored enterprises can play an important role in delivering additional work-based learning.
Compared to school-based enterprises, firms have certain advantages in providing learn-and-stay work-based learning (WBL): They tend to use more current technology, and they can expose students to the culture and process of production in a profit-seeking context where people's livelihoods are at stake. On the other hand, school enterprises have certain advantages precisely because the stakes are not as high. They can give students more opportunities to rotate among jobs, to work in teams, to grapple with managerial decisions, and to make mistakes--a necessary condition for learning. Generally, WBL involves balancing the demands of production against the demands of learning, and schools can give higher priority to learning because education is their primary mission. These advantages imply that school enterprise can play a useful role in learn-and-go WBL, and also in learn-and-stay as long as they are not expected to train students on the latest technology or procedures. School enterprise may be especially important in low-income urban or rural communities where opportunites for firm-based WBL are scarce. . . .
In practice, the choice of firm-based versus school-based, and learn-and-stay versus learn-and-go will depend on the aspirations, opportunities, and resources in each community. State and local policy makers and program designers may also discover effective combinations of these options, for example, using school enterprise to develop generic competence and deepen understanding of academic subjects, along with firm-based WBL to acquire knowledge of a particular industry that offers high prospective earnings. In the decentralized policy environment of the United States, local and state experimentation will determine the response to the growing demand for WBL that prepares students for a lifetime of learning at work.
Damaris Moore,a member of the Dissemination Program, handles NCRVE's public information initiatives.
The following new reports are available from the NCRVE Materials Distribution Service. You may order these documents by phone (800) 637-7652, by e-mail, NCRVE-MDS@wiu.edu, or by sending your request and/or purchase order to: NCRVE Materials Distribution Service, Western Illinois University, Horrabin Hall 46, Macomb, IL 61455.
Executive summaries and/or full text of recent NCRVE publications are available electronically on NCRVE's website. If a document is available at our Web site, the online location is listed underneath the pricing information in this article. To connect to NCRVE's World Wide Web site, point your WWW browser to <http://ncrve.berkeley.edu/>. (Note: electronic addresses given are enclosed in <angle brackets> to set them off from the text. Do not include the brackets when typing the addresses on your computer.)
Career magnets attract students by offering to simultaneously prepare them for college and provide them with an introduction to a career. This study examines a group of career magnet schools that have had some success in educating low and moderate income minority and immigrant students. Their success seems to hinge on the schools' ability to help students through the process of adolescent identity development. Students strongly profit from the chance to become "really good at something." Essays by seven researchers address graduation rates, academic effects, student experience, the career magnet environment, and school-to-work transition and adolescent development. The study is based on an analysis of over nine thousand student records, and surveys and interviews with career magnet graduates.
MDS-779, March 1999, $10.50
This material contains summaries of NCRVE's 1999 Research and Development projects, as well as Dissemination and Training activities. Additionally, a directory of NCRVE personnel and NCRVE's mission statement is included.
MDS-1276,March 1998, $5.50
Full text of many recent NCRVE publications are available on the NCRVEwebsite. You can search titles and abstracts or browse the available full-text items by title at <http://ncrve.berkeley.edu/fulltext.html>. New items are added regularly, so check back often, or subscribe to the ncrve-www-announce electronic mailing list (see below for details on how to join). (Note: electronic addresses given here are enclosed in <angle brackets> to set them off from the text. Do not include the brackets when typing the addresses on your computer.)
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