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Linked Learning: Recent Successes and Looking Forward

BY Anne Stanton
Anne Stanton
As Director of the Youth program, Anne Stanton leads Irvine’s strategies to esta
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| Feb 25, 2014
A number of exciting recent developments indicate how Linked Learning is growing and gaining support:
  • The Linked Learning Pilot Program, passed by California legislators through Assembly Bill 790, involves 63 school districts and county offices of education throughout the state. Together, these agencies serve approximately 600,000 high school students, about one-third of the state’s high school population. This pilot sets the stage for steady expansion and demonstration of Linked Learning as a viable approach that can benefit all California youth.
  • Legislative support is reinforced by the 2013–2014 California state budget, which establishes the $250 million California Career Pathways Trust to fund work-based learning — a critical element of the Linked Learning approach — and other career pathways.
  • Last fall, the Linked Learning Fall Showcase generated new commitments from business leaders to work with local schools to get involved in providing work-based learning opportunities for high school students in Linked Learning pathways (read a News & Insights post about the event by Jennifer Ortega, California State Director of America’s Edge).
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Report from the White House Summit on College Opportunity

BY Anne Stanton
Anne Stanton
As Director of the Youth program, Anne Stanton leads Irvine’s strategies to esta
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| Jan 17, 2014

How often have we heard others — or ourselves— utter the phrase “education is more important to our economic success than ever before?” It is increasingly evident that a high school diploma is no longer the ticket to earning a family sustaining wage, and yet we also know the dismal situation. Our college attainment rates are static and inequitable. This fact lies at the heart of our Youth program, compelling us and our grantee partners to find solutions, to expand the number of students who graduate high school and earn a post-secondary credential by the time they are 25. We don’t kid ourselves — we know the issues are complex and that there are no silver bullet solutions — but we do know that we have to do better, and try harder to form new partnerships if we are going to help more young people succeed.

Yesterday, I had the unique privilege of watching the power of partnership in action. At the White House Summit on College Opportunity, I was surrounded by over 100 college presidents, business and nonprofit leaders, and colleagues in the philanthropic sector. I was wholly inspired by the President's and the First Lady's personal call to action to collectively commit to increasing college opportunity for low-income students. I was also inspired by the resounding response that it received: By the end of the day there were hundreds of tangible commitments to tackle the barriers to college opportunity, a palpable sense of enthusiasm to take on the task, and a clear willingness to work differently to get it done for our nation’ young people.

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White House Summit Builds Momentum for Linked Learning

BY Anne Stanton
Anne Stanton
As Director of the Youth program, Anne Stanton leads Irvine’s strategies to esta
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| Jan 16, 2014

The White House today will be hosting an all-day summit dedicated to increasing college opportunity for low-income and disadvantaged students. In addition to President Obama and the First Lady, participants will include college presidents from around the country, along with other educators and advocates working on college access and opportunity. I am certainly honored to be participating in this summit, but I’m mostly excited because of what it indicates about the growing national interest and momentum for Linked Learning.

Linked Learning integrates rigorous academics with career-based learning and real-world workplace experiences. Thanks to the hard work of our grantees and other partners, Linked Learning is expanding throughout California and recent evidence shows that it’s posting measurable success for high school students. We certainly believe that Linked Learning is a great way to prepare all students for success in college and their careers, and are pleased that policymakers across the nation are taking notice.

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Guest Post: Connecting Schools with Industry Professionals

BY Jennifer Ortega
Jennifer Ortega
As the California director for the national business leaders organization Americ
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| Dec 20, 2013

California State Director, America’s Edge

As the Linked Learning movement builds momentum throughout California, it is imperative that the field create systems to better connect schools with local industry professionals so students get essential work-based learning experiences.

Given the data on California’s skills gap, such partnerships that prepare young people for success in college and the workforce are truly needed. These partnerships give employers the opportunity to help inform students about their industry and coach students who might one day work for their company.

While this “return on investment” is a good reason for employers to get involved, a new incentive for school-business partnerships has emerged. Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg proposed and pressed for a $250 million set-aside in the 2013-14 state budget to support the development of systems for strong regional partnerships among school districts, community colleges, and employers. Known as the Career Pathways Trust, this $250 million will be distributed by the California Department of Education in the form of competitive grants in 2014.

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Teaching Lessons

BY Aaron Pick
Aaron Pick
As Senior Program Officer of the Youth program, Aaron is responsible for develop
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| Oct 24, 2013

Teaching runs in my blood. My parents were elementary teachers, my sister currently teaches, and I’m a former high school math teacher. Together, we taught for over 50 years. Of all my jobs, teaching is the one that helped me most in being able to read an audience, adjust a plan midstream, and motivate others on a daily basis. It had a huge impact on my life. But a recent visit to a high school had me thinking about the power of learning to teach as a tool for young people and the many ways in which it can prepare them for success in college, career and life.

Enter Arroyo Valley High School in San Bernardino City Unified School District. Arroyo Valley serves over 2,000 high school students, mostly from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds. About 150 of these students attend the Teaching Academy, which is just one example of a Linked Learning pathway set within one of California’s high-demand industry sectors that combines rigorous academics with career-based learning. Linked Learning integrates these real-world professions with rigorous academics in a way that makes school relevant and engaging. Students at Arroyo Valley serve as teaching interns at local schools and receive a course of study that prepares them for both college and the teaching profession.

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Transforming High Schools: Linking Academics and Real Life

BY Jim Canales
Jim Canales
Jim Canales served as President and Chief Executive Officer of The James Irvine
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| Sep 18, 2013
Editor’s Note: The following post by Irvine Foundation President and CEO Jim Canales originally ran in the Huffington Post on September 16, 2013, and is reprinted here.

My first job out of college was as a high school English teacher in San Francisco. As a result, every fall brings with it hope and excitement, a combination of anticipation and aspiration. Sadly, today, for far too many high schools students in my state of California, such hope is not to be found. Too many of our young people's dreams go unrealized, and that has enormous consequences.

Put simply, our education system is not working for many students. Across California, nearly a quarter of students don't graduate from high school on time or at all. Graduation rates for Latinos and African Americans are even lower. And barely a third of the state's students who do graduate high school actually complete all of the courses needed for admission to a University of California or Cal State school. We're failing our students by not giving them the education they need.

The implications are clear: the economy suffers when our workers are not prepared. Unemployment among these youth is at a level not seen since the 1950s. Tens of billions of dollars are lost in wages and productivity as a result of dropouts, and our state's workers are not prepared for the jobs we do have and need filled.

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Linked Learning in Motion

BY Anne Stanton
Anne Stanton
As Director of the Youth program, Anne Stanton leads Irvine’s strategies to esta
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| Jul 23, 2013

I am excited to share with you Linked Learning in Motion, a new interactive infographic that illustrates the remarkable progress and growth of Linked Learning across California. With the launch of a new statewide pilot program that will bring Linked Learning to thousands more youth, and new evidence of Linked Learning's effectiveness, we thought this would be a good time to provide a snapshot of the great work of our grantees and other partners, and the exciting path ahead to prepare all of California's youth for success in college and career.

I invite you to review the infographic and share your thoughts and comments. If you are interested in hearing from students, teachers and parents, I encourage you to go the Voices page where you can watch video snippets from people who are experiencing Linked Learning first-hand.

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Strengthening College Connections

BY Kenji Treanor
Kenji Treanor
Kenji Treanor has worked at Irvine since 2004 and helps oversee Youth program gr
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| May 24, 2013
Educators have been working to extend the impact of Linked Learning by strengthening connections between high school and community college, sharing practices and data as part of the California Community College Linked Learning Initiative (CCCLLI). Earlier this month, as I attended a CCCLLI event in Sacramento, I found myself excited by some early results.

The initiative is showing promising signs of improving students’ success. Specifically:

  • At Pasadena City College, the overall grade point average of students in the CCCLLI-supported program was 3.31 compared to 2.74 for non-program students.
  • At Sacramento City College, 93% of students in the CCCLLI-supported program completed at least 13 units in their first semester compared to just 21% of non-program students who completed 13 units within six semesters.

These early outcomes from within the initiative – which includes high school and community college educators from eight sites across the state – are very encouraging as Irvine strives to strengthen Linked Learning students’ transition into college and attainment of credentials. All of the CCCLLI sites are using five strategies toward this objective:

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Guest Post: Linked Learning Advocates Discuss Rapid Expansion

BY Hilary McLean
Hilary McLean
Hilary McLean serves as deputy director of the Linked Learning Alliance. Ms. McL
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| Apr 15, 2013

By Hilary McLean, Deputy Director of the Linked Learning Alliance

We recently hosted a convening for our Youth program grantees who are working together to advance Linked Learning in California. We asked attendee Hilary McLean, Deputy Director of the Linked Learning Alliance, to share her impressions of the convening.

After two days spent this week with fellow advocates for Linked Learning, I came away with one main realization: We feel a collective urgency.

The field of Linked Learning is rapidly expanding. Sixty-three districts and county offices of education have committed to making Linked Learning a districtwide, and in many cases regional, strategy as part of a new state Linked Learning Pilot Program. This is an incredible and exciting leap of scale.

But like any growth spurt, there are potential growing pains. There is also concern that without appropriate supports in place, the growth in this field could end up not being truly rooted in the non-negotiable elements of Linked Learning and not delivering on the promise of true college and career readiness for all students.

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Education Funder Conference Reinforces Power of Linked Learning

BY Aaron Pick
Aaron Pick
As Senior Program Officer of the Youth program, Aaron is responsible for develop
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| Nov 01, 2012

As a grantmaker, I get the opportunity to hear about how organizations are tackling some of the most pressing issues facing youth in our state. One of the events that I look forward to most is the annual Grantmakers for Education conference, because it gives me the chance to learn how other funders are thinking about systemic education reform, and highlights some promising practices taking place across the nation. This year’s conference brought together nearly 500 education grantmakers in New York City for keynote speeches, site visits and panel discussions. This format may sound similar to other conferences you have attended, but what do 500 education grantmakers actually talk about when they come together?

The hot issues at the conference are probably not surprising to anyone who follows education reform. College and career readiness, the Common Core State Standards, STEM, better use of data, collaboration, district-level reform and digital learning were all topics that had a lot of buzz. I was especially interested in a session on “College and Career Readiness: What Do We Mean?” that was moderated by former West Virginia Governor Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education. The session featured an engaging trio of panelists including Nader Twal from Long Beach Unified School District, JD Hoye from the National Academy Foundation (NAF) and NAF alumnus Michael Durant. Frameworks developed by both NAF and ConnectEd were presented to describe what it means to be ready for both college and career.

What I found to be most encouraging, though, is that all the big issues being discussed at the conference — including college and career readiness — tied incredibly well to what we’re doing collectively as a Linked Learning field. For example, sessions on the Common Core were packed, and seeing that level of interest continued to reinforce that Linked Learning is ideally positioned to be a central way districts deliver the Common Core standards.

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