April 2013

There’s still time to register for the Linked Learning Alliance Spring 2013 Convening on April 26 in Sacramento! Click here for more details. 


Linked Learning: Advancing Education in California

Christopher Cabaldon, Executive Director, Linked Learning Alliance

Christopher Cabaldon

“When am I ever going to use this?”

We’ve heard students ask this question before, and probably asked it ourselves as we matriculated our way through school. More and more students in California will know the answer to that question as more and more high schools offer Linked Learning.

Providing high quality Linked Learning options to students requires coordinated and sustained efforts, whether a district is in the early planning stages or is already offering wall-to-wall Linked Learning.  And the Alliance is here to help.

I am happy to announce the soft launch of a new Linked Learning website, with more resources and tools than ever before to support you in your efforts to inform and engage your communities and critical stakeholders.

We encourage you to check out the site and the new featured Linked Learning Pathways video which you can click to watch below.

Linked Learning: New Pathways Video
New Linked Learning Pathways Video 

Many of these new tools will be highlighted, along with best practices for how to use them, during our Spring 2013 convening on April 26 here in Sacramento. If you haven’t signed up to attend yet, there is still time to register, just click here.

I am pleased that representatives from nearly all the consortia that are participating in the new state Linked Learning Pilot Program will be joining us, as well as many who have long been involved in implementing and advocating for the Linked Learning approach.

At the convening, we will host breakout sessions that are designed to help make Linked Learning work at the site level and explain how related state policies are evolving. Topics include  making work-based learning work, the evolving accountability landscape, strengthening K-12 and postsecondary alignment, and last but certainly not least, SB 1070 funding and how new resources can help support the Linked Learning Pilot Program.

Speaking of new policy opportunities to further develop California’s support system for Linked Learning, stay informed of new bills with the potential to impact the field on our Proposed Legislation page, where you will find a summary of how each piece of legislation could help advance Linked Learning.

Support for Linked Learning continues to gain momentum at the state level. Last month, the California State Senate held a two-day policy retreat focused on Linked Learning in Long Beach. Senators were very impressed with what is happening in Long Beach, reflective about how Linked Learning might be implemented elsewhere, concerned about the alignment between high school and  college, and left the retreat ready to tackle education policy issues with a much richer and more coherent contextual framework. More on this below.

Policymaker education efforts were also bolstered when Jennifer Ortega, California State Director of America’s Edge and Linked Learning Alliance Leadership Council Member, organized a Linked Learning site visit for Assembly Education Committee Chair Joan Buchanan and local business leaders. They visited Livermore High School’s Green Engineering Academy, a high school implementing the Linked Learning approach in the Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District. Assemblymember Buchanan emerged from the visit impressed with Linked Learning and its potential to benefit students, employers, and communities.

Lastly, I am happy to highlight a new report released by The Education Trust-West, “Expanding Access, Creating Options: How Linked Learning Pathways Can Mitigate Barriers to College and Career Access in Schools and Districts“. The study, conducted over two years, highlights the connection between quality implementation of Linked Learning and equity and college and career access. The key findings in this report reinforce the need for consistency in the non-negotiable elements of Linked Learning as districts strive to take this approach to scale.

Tameka L. McGlawn, Senior Practice Associate at The Education Trust-West, had this to say, “We found that when implemented with fidelity, the Linked Learning approach can fundamentally transform teaching, learning and educational systems.”

We couldn’t agree more.


Senator Steinberg Introduces SB 594: The Dropout Reduction and Workforce Development Bond Act of 2013

Recently, Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg unveiled a new measure to encourage and enhance industry and education partnerships in student career pathways.  SB 594 is a bill intended to provide incentives for businesses to partner with public schools and provide work based learning experiences for students. SB 594 authorizes the issuance of Workforce Development Bonds by the state to finance career pathways programs, with repayment linked to performance-based contracts. The bill also authorizes a tax credit for businesses investing in academic and work-based learning opportunities for students in partnership with public schools. The bill also establishes a Linked Learning Trust Fund in K-12 and college districts to finance the operations of career pathways programs. Trust funds may accept revenues from any source. Priority will be given to programs serving students in economically disadvantaged districts with high dropout rates.
This proposed legislation has the potential to impact the Linked Learning field. Many resources exist for you to learn more about the bill. You may:

Spotlight: San Bernardino connects school to life to prepare 21st century workforce 

Districts across the state are using the Linked Learning approach to prepare the next generation of California thinkers, workers, entrepreneurs and citizens.  In San Bernardino County, the Linked Learning San Bernardino Consortium is comprised of five districts working with leading employers and local colleges to expand Linked Learning options for students in the region as part of the Linked Learning Pilot Program.

The consortium serves more than 38,000 high school students, nearly 30% of San Bernardino County’s high school population (136,000 students), including: Chino Valley Unified School District, Colton Joint Unified School District, San Bernardino City Unified School District, Upland Unified School District and Yucaipa-Calimesa Unified School District.

At Chino Hills High School, students in the Health Science Academy supported by the National Academy Foundation (NAF) are benefiting from the Linked Learning approach. This includes opportunities for students to participate in rotations and volunteer opportunities at Pomona Valley Medical Center and Chino Valley Medical Center.On a national basis, 90 percent of students in NAF academies graduate, 80 percent attend college, and 52 percent of those students graduate in four years.

Selected by the California Department of Education as one of 20 participants in the Pilot Program, the San Bernardino consortium’s goal is to make Linked Learning available to 50 percent of the region’s school students by 2018.

Over the years, there has been an unprecedented, evolving commitment of influential leaders in the region through the Alliance for Education partnership, committed to fostering educational opportunities that prepare students for college and career to improve the economic well-being of San Bernardino County. Further helping to make Linked Learning a reality in the region, local employer partners include Kelly Space and Technology, SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union, STV, Inc., Wilson & Company, High Desert Power Project, LLC to name a few.

Expanding Linked Learning will help San Bernardino compete in targeted high-growth areas like manufacturing and technology because they will have developed a qualified and prepared workforce to fill those jobs.

Imagine the possibilities of similarly inspiring results as Linked Learning is scaled across California.

Unprecedented Senate field trip promotes Linked Learning policy and practice in Long Beach

On March 5-6, Linked Learning was the organizing framework for the California Senate’s first-ever policy retreat focused on education. Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg coordinated the education policy retreat and almost every member of the State Senate attended, immersing themselves in the experience, in the implications, and in the lessons of Linked Learning at school districts and community colleges.  

Senators visited a diverse array of academies and classes at Cabrillo High School, spending lots of time talking with students, teachers, administrators and postsecondary representatives. They engaged in a thoughtful and relevant discussion about the Governor’s proposed local control funding flexibility, Common Core State Standards, and the evolving Academic Performance Index. They also learned and reflected a great deal about the challenges, complexities, and contradictions of how state education policy can play out in the real world.


Capitol Comment with Senator Bob Huff
Capitol Comment with Senator Bob Huff

It is becoming increasingly apparent that Linked Learning, and the values and commitment to preparing all students for college and career, are gaining momentum. Check out this  YouTube video posted by Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff one day after the trip.