On September 25, Deborah S. Delisle, U.S. Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education, and representatives from the U.S. Congress experienced a firsthand look at Linked Learning during a site visit to Porterville Unified School District in California that was organized by the Alliance for Excellent Education. Linked Learning transforms the traditional high school experience by integrating rigorous academics with career-based learning, real-world workplace experiences, and wraparound student support.
“Preparing young adults for success in college and careers requires a different educational experience than it did a generation ago,” said Delisle. “The president has laid out plans to redesign high schools and career and technical education, to ensure that young people graduate with the skills and abilities that are needed in a global economy. Approaches like Linked Learning are good examples of how we can prepare students for the future with rigorous curriculum and work-based learning.”
California has invested heavily in Linked Learning, including $250 million in Career Pathways Trust grants earlier this year to expand the Linked Learning approach in districts and across regions throughout the state. Another $250 million in grants will be awarded in 2015. California has also selected sixty-three school districts and county offices of education to participate in a state Linked Learning pilot program. PUSD is a mentor district in the state’s pilot program, which, when fully implemented, will make Linked Learning available to more than one-third of the state’s high school students.
“Through leading districts such as Porterville that focus on transforming entire educational systems, Linked Learning is making a difference in the lives of California’s young people,” said Anne Stanton, youth program director at the James Irvine Foundation. “Of greater importance, Linked Learning is California’s most promising strategy for achieving equity and opportunity for all of students by preparing them simultaneously for both college and career.”
The site visit included a panel discussion with business and postsecondary education leaders about the role and importance of community partnerships. These valuable partners expose students to dual-enrollment programs and provide access to internships and other professional skill-building opportunities. By meeting students, visiting classrooms, and observing project-based demonstrations, federal policymakers saw firsthand how Linked Learning engages students in their own learning, motivates them to succeed, and equips them for any postsecondary endeavor that they choose.
“Rigorous and relevant education plus engagement equals economic success,” said Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former governor of West Virginia. “By integrating strong academics centered on college preparation, demanding career-based learning, and real-world experiences, the Linked Learning approach ensures that high school graduates are better prepared to succeed in college and a career, and employers are more satisfied with their workers.”