RESEARCH & INSIGHTS

An Innovative Work-and-Learn Model for High School Students Gains Momentum in Maryland

October 19, 2020

A newly released ED2WORK white paper analyzes the innovative model and captures perceptions about the TranZed Academy for Working Students (TAWS), a high school for working students in Montgomery County, Maryland. 

The authors use a case study approach to highlight how and why today’s high school students can benefit from simultaneous work and learning when intentionally designed to complement one another. The paper shares how a collaboration of leaders across government, education, and business came together to develop a new model to support the growing number of students for whom the traditional high school model no longer works.  

Today’s working high school learners often must work to help family finances or pay for their expenses and save for college. TAWS is a model for hard-working high school students who want to capitalize on their job experiences to gain momentum as they plan for their careers. By providing career coaching and enabling students to develop social capital, the TAWS program helps students envision a future where work and continuing education go hand in hand; TAWS puts students, not the high school structure, at the core of the program.

One of the paper's authors, Marie Cini, chief strategy officer at ED2WORK, shared, “Highlighting models like TAWS is critically important, especially since COVID-19 presents a whole host of challenges for students and families who find themselves at odds to balance life’s complexities.” Steven Taylor, founder and CEO of ED2WORK, and co-author of the paper, commented, “I think we’re going to see an increase in the number of young people that have to work and contribute to their household finances, and we cannot force these young people to decide between education or work. Educators and employers must act for the benefit of working learners.”

 

At a time when COVID-19 requires a fundamental rethinking around supporting education and work, TAWS can serve as a model for other school districts and states interested in creating more flexible pathways for working learners to pursue an education.

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