NCAC Past, Present and Future
In 1995, a small group of practitioners from Philadelphia and Washington DC came together to determine how they could support schools and districts across the US who wanted to implement the career academy model. The founding members of NCAC had a vision of what a grassroots organization might look like. They knew that having a conference to pull folks together made sense, but they truly had to take a leap of faith, as there was no funding or history, only a dream and healthy dose of enthusiasm. With maxed out credit cards and a whole bunch of hope, the first NCAC conference in Cherry Hill, PA brought together 400 educators, businesspersons, students and parents who were all hungry to learn from each other. With that conference and the networking that followed, NCAC as an organization was off and running.
From 1996 through 2009, NCAC continued to expand and grow. A vision began to emerge of being the recognized leader for collaborative support and sustainability of career academies.
In 2004, NCAC lead the collaborative development of the National Standards of Practice (NSOP) for career academies. They, along with the College and Career Academy Support Network (CCASN) and the National Academy Foundation (NAF), hosted a press conference in Washington, DC to launch the NSOP. With the federal smaller learning communities initiative, NCAC was actively involved with many school districts on the implementation of their smaller learning community model—career academies. Additionally, states and cities began to explore turning their strong CTE programs into career academies and NCAC played a role in that development, as well.
NCAC convened the original collaborative group of NSOP developers to reaffirm and revise the ten National Standards in 2012. Also, at this time, President Obama traveled to Nashville, TN to speak at McGavock High School, a successful and NCAC model wall-to-wall career academy school. The President called the academy model “simple, but powerful.”
In 2019, career academies celebrated their 50th year in existence and NCAC held its yearly conference in Philadelphia and premiered the video, “Whatever it Takes” – a tribute to the Founders of the Academy Model.
Over the years, NCAC has taken its vision seriously. With a Board comprised of organizations representing career academies, academy practitioners, and business partners, NCAC serves its members in advising, assisting, and advocating for career academies using the NSOP as a guiding framework. Members have access to:
• A yearly, high quality national conference that draws from up 900 practitioners and stakeholders;
• Technical assistance on starting and maintaining high quality career academies;
• A variety of professional development opportunities based on the needs of the school district;
• Access to resources from other organizations that support and sustain career academies;
• An academy review or accreditation process that identifies and rewards best practices found in model career academies; and
• National information that can keep them abreast of information valuable to career academy
• Local implementation and sustainability.