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Deeper Learning Digest: What Is the Most Valuable Learning Experience in High School?

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December 05, 2019 03:32 pm


Are work experiences as important to career preparation as school?

Today’s digest highlights schools and networks that are bringing work experiences to high school students, how investing in African American and Latino students would help local communities and economies, one teacher’s perspective on the importance of community partnerships, and an upcoming deeper learning webinar that can’t be missed.

High-Quality Internships for High School Students

“Work experiences can be as important as formal education (high school and college in particular) in terms of shaping career preferences and readiness,” writes Tom Vander Ark in Forbes. “Left to chance, they may be few in number, inequitably distributed, and poorly supported. Instead, they should be built into the schedule and programming of every secondary and post-secondary institution.”

Vander Ark offers several examples of schools and networks that are bringing high-quality work experiences to their students to help prepare them for successful futures. For example, Big Picture Learning schools offer internships to high school students two days a week in areas that correlate to their field of study and enable them to see how their learning relates to a future in the working world. At Clairemont High School in San Diego, students have access to a career path mentor and take a semester-long course in eleventh grade called “Exploratory Work Experience.”

“Well structured internships can be the most valuable learning experience in high school,” writes Vander Ark. “If you’re a business owner or organizational leader, support high school and college work experience programs and help grow your business and your community.”

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Speaking of growing businesses and improving communities, we know that graduating more students from high school has a positive impact on local economies. The national high school graduation rate is 84.6 percent, but that masks the fact that nearly a quarter of African American students and about 20 percent of Latino students do not graduate from high school within four years. Raising the high school graduation rate for these students would result in huge economic benefits―including more jobs, increased earnings, home sales, and tax revenue―as well as reinvigorate local communities and help to close the opportunity gap. Check out this “Graduation Effect” data below and learn more at

Economic Impact Data for African American Students

Economic Impact Data for Latino Students

UPCOMING WEBINAR: Scaling Up Deeper Learning Approaches in Public Schools

Deeper learning approaches help students develop critical thinking, collaboration, and communication skills alongside academic skills that are necessary for success. However, effective ways to sustain and scale up these learning approaches remain elusive, especially in underserved and under-resourced schools.

In this webinar hosted by All4Ed and the Learning Policy Institute, experts from the field and researchers will discuss the challenges and opportunities educators and district leaders face in expanding deeper learning. They will also highlight how three networks— Big Picture Learning, Internationals Network for Public Schools, and New Tech Network—have partnered with traditionally structured public school districts to spread deeper learning models, advance equity, and achieve greater success for traditionally marginalized students.

Register Now

Leveraging Community Partnerships

Leveraging community partnerships can help keep students engaged and provide support and resources for teachers. For example, students at Crosstown High School in Memphis, Tennessee had the opportunity to work on solving a river pollution issue with local experts.

“I feel like I can build a project with a community partner and be supported,” explains Nikki Wallace, a science teacher at Crosstown High School, in this video by XQ. “It’s like a two-way street,” says Wallace. The community may have a problem that need help with, and the students need a project. “It makes a really great marriage.”

Watch Now

Deeper Learning in Action

Twitter can be a great place to see what’s happening to promote deeper learning outcomes in (and out!) of classrooms across the country. Here are a few examples. Be sure to follow @DeeperLearning and check out #DeeperLearning for more!

The ‘Deeper Learning Digest’ is a bi-weekly roundup of articles, blog posts, and other content around deeper learning. Be sure to follow @deeperlearning on Twitter, @deeper.learning on Instagram, and like Deeper Learning on Facebook to stay up to date on all deeper learning news.

Featured photo by Allison Shelley/The Verbatim Agency for American Education: Images of Teachers and Students in Action

Deeper Learning, Deeper Learning Digest

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Every Child a Graduate. Every Child Prepared for Life.