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Linked Learning in California Draws Visit from Federal Policymakers

U.S. Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education Among Policymakers Visiting Porterville Unified School District on September 25 for Firsthand Look at Linked Learning

WASHINGTON, DC – On Thursday, September 25, representatives from the U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Congress will visit Porterville Unified School District in Porterville, California for a firsthand look at Linked Learning, one of the most dynamic high school redesign efforts in the country. Linked Learning transforms the traditional high school experience by integrating rigorous academics with career-based classroom learning, real-world workplace experiences, and wraparound student support.

“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, whose organization helped plan the site visit. “By integrating strong academics centered on college preparation, demanding career-based learning, and real-world experience, the Linked Learning approach ensures that high school graduates are better prepared to succeed in college and career, and employers are more satisfied with their workers.”

Evidence shows that Linked Learning increases the percentage of students who graduate from high school and enroll in college with the knowledge and skills that will prepare them for the twenty-first-century workplace. During Thursday’s site visit, federal representatives, including Deborah S. Delisle, U.S. Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education, will visit Porterville Unified School District’s (PUSD’s) Monache High School and Harmony Magnet Academy.

“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.”

More than any other state, 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.”

A portion of the site visit will include a panel discussion with business and postsecondary education leaders about the role and importance of community partnerships. Through these valuable partners, students are exposed to dual-enrollment programs and gain access to internships and other professional skill-building opportunities.

“Because they receive real-world training in high school, Linked Learning graduates hit the ground running, providing California’s businesses with employees who have career-ready skills needed to be effective on the job,” said John Corkins, chief executive officer of Research for Hire, Inc. in Porterville.

By meeting students, visiting classrooms, and observing project-based demonstrations, federal policymakers will see firsthand how Linked Learning engages students in their own learning, motivates them to succeed, and equips them for any postsecondary endeavor that they choose.

“We are proud and honored to host our guests from Washington, DC, so that they may see the great accomplishments of our students and teachers and the power of Linked Learning to prepare students for success in college and career,” said John Snavely, superintendent of PUSD. “We are confident they will be greatly impressed with the levels of achievements and the commitment of our students and teachers.”

A complete agenda for the day of programming is available below. Members of the media who are interested in attending should contact either Charisse Ceballos, Linked Learning Alliance communications and outreach coordinator, at or 916-248-4848 or Ariana Witt, Alliance for Excellent Education communications associate at or 202-828-0828.

AGENDA (all times are PST)

Site #1:            Monache High School

960 N Newcomb Street, Porterville, CA

9:00 a.m.      District Welcome, Monache High School (Library)

Madison Meredith, Senior, Environmental Science Academy

John Snavely, EdD, Superintendent, Porterville Unified School District

Anne Stanton, Youth Program Director, James Irvine Foundation

Bob Wise, President, Alliance for Excellent Education

Deb Delisle, Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education, U.S. Department of Education

An Overview of Linked Learning

Gary Hoachlander, PhD, President, ConnectEd: The California Center for College and Career

Hilary McLean, Deputy Director, Linked Learning Alliance

Linked Learning Implementation at Monache High School

Richard Smithey, Principal, Monache High School

Amanda Driver, Lead Teacher, Environmental Science Academy

10:05 a.m.       Classroom Tours

Environmental Science Academy

Multimedia Technology Academy

10:55 a.m.       Project-Based Demonstrations (Library)      

11:25 a.m.       Travel to Site #2: Harmony Magnet Academy

19429 Road 228, Strathmore, CA

12:00 p.m.      Luncheon Welcome at Harmony Magnet Academy (Multipurpose Room)

Bob Wise, President, Alliance for Excellent Education

Ray Lopez, Senior, Associated Student Body President, Academy of Engineering                  

Linked Learning Implementation at Harmony Magnet Academy

Jeff Brown, Principal, Harmony Magnet Academy

Special Remarks

Milt Stowe, Mayor, Porterville, CA

Keenan Hochschild, Field Representative, U.S. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)

Aida Molina, PhD, Member, California State Board of Education

Tim Rainey, Executive Director, California Workforce Investment Board

Panel Presentation

John Snavely, EdD, Superintendent, Porterville Unified School District (facilitator)

Gunnar Avinelis, Chief Operations Officer, Thomas Creek Farms, Inc.

Paul Beare, Dean, Kremen School of Education & Human Development, California State University, Fresno, CA

John Corkins, Chair, P8 Coalition; CEO, Research for Hire, Inc.

Richard Bennett, Parent; Chair, Harmony Magnet Academy Parent Foundation

Rosa Flores Carlson, President, Porterville College

John Lollis, City Manager, Porterville, CA

Dalton Rogers, Harmony Magnet Academy, Class of 2012; Student, U.C. Merced

1:00 p.m.        Adjourn


The Alliance for Excellent Education is a Washington, DC–based national policy and advocacy organization dedicated to ensuring all students, particularly those traditionally underserved,