Preparing for Local or Global Jobs? Local Labor Markets, High School Course-Taking, and College Enrollment
April Sutton, University of Texas at Austin
Amanda Bosky, University of Texas at Austin
This study investigates the relationship between the occupational structure of the local labor market, school course offerings, and student course-taking and college-going. Results indicate that schools serving communities with higher concentrations of low-wage service and blue-collar jobs devote a larger share of their curricula to vocational courses related to local jobs and a smaller share to AP/IB courses, net of other factors. Students in these communities take more vocational courses and are less likely to take college-preparatory math and AP/IB courses, partly due to course offerings at their schools. Students in communities with higher concentrations of low-wage service/blue-collar workers are also less likely to attend a four-year college, partially as a result of the less academically rigorous school curricula and course-taking in these areas. Results indicate that the greatest disparities in advanced academic course-taking and four-year college enrollment across local economic contexts exist among high-achieving students.