Meager Results from STW in Wisconsin

Published January 1, 2000

“While many Wisconsin schoolchildren did participate in classroom-based job and career awareness programs, there is little evidence that School to Work has had any impact at all on Wisconsin’s future work force.”
James H. Miller, President
Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, Inc.

Miller’s somber conclusion provides an introduction to an analysis of the School to Work program performed earlier this year by Professors Mark Schug and Richard Western from the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

The Wisconsin STW effort was substantial, driven by the goals of improved academic learning, improved work-related skills, and improved access to employment opportunities. The program was launched in the late 1980s with a recognition that the state’s young people were not being prepared well for workforce participation, either academically or in work-related skills. Between 1991 and 1998, federal and state spending on STW in Wisconsin totaled $195.4 million, with 96 percent coming from federal sources.

“The actual results are startling,” notes Miller. “While only 1,150 students participated in the apprenticeship programs, just 347 completed their program.”

The researchers found that the state has not tried to evaluate the results achieved from spending these tax dollars, nor has the state given any indication that the spending will have any future impact on Wisconsin’s changing economy.

For more information …

The Wisconsin Policy Research Institute report, “School To Work In Wisconsin: Inflated Claims, Meager Results,” by Mark C. Schug and Richard D. Western, is available from the Institute at P.O. Box 487, Thiensville, WI 53092, phone 414/241-0514.