A 2021 Year in Review for The Linked Learning Alliance
It's hard to believe we've come to the end of another year! While many challenges continued, there were so many more bright spots. We continued to focus on high-quality Linked Learning experiences for all students, explored postsecondary outcomes for pathway graduates, centered student voices and engaged alumni, increased funding for integrated college and career learning, and more. Today, we look back at our shared 2021 successes.
This year started off strong with a student-led legislative briefing, Keep Us Linked: Young People Share Insights on the Student Experience During COVID-19. Featuring Linked Learning students from Los Angeles, Porterville, Oakland, and Long Beach Unified School Districts and education leaders and industry partners, Keep Us Linked gave legislators and leaders a real look at the challenges young people have been facing and the solutions they need to thrive during and beyond COVID-19.
In February, the Linked Learning Alliance launched a brand new Certification Platform. The launch of this new platform signifies one step closer to our goal of one million young people in Gold certified pathways by 2030. The platform allows users to capture more data about pathways and their students, ensuring we continue to keep equitable access and opportunity at the forefront of Linked Learning certification, and the Linked Learning movement.
As districts across California and the nation continued to grapple with supporting students and communities amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the Linked Learning Alliance released a new framework highlighting the integration of Linked Learning and community schools. The brief provides an overview of the Linked Learning and community schools approaches and describes a framework for bringing the two together at the high school level to put all students, particularly those in historically marginalized communities, on a pathway to postsecondary success.
In service to deepening and expanding Linked Learning and the Linked Learning Alliance's work in practice, policy, and public will, we launched the inaugural cohort of Linked Learning Fellows. The program builds on the Linked Learning field's longstanding leadership in driving equity in local community, engaging highly experienced practitioners who have brought learning to life by successfully transforming programs, systems, and policies to ignite students' college and career ambitions.
Linked Learning students graduate high school prepared, confident, and enthusiastic about what they will achieve during and after college. New research conducted by UCLA and SRI released this year found significant barriers preventing too many Linked Learning students from continuing on their upward trajectory through postsecondary. In a piece for the Alliance's blog, Linked Learning Alliance President Anne Stanton invites K-12, postsecondary, and workforce leaders to dismantle the silos that derail young peoples' progress and work towards seamless transitions between systems.
Anne and Alliance for Excellent Education CEO Deborah Delisle were featured in The 74 Million in April, writing that as states and districts contemplate how to best use their COVID-19 relief dollars, they should think differently about addressing lost learning and building better systems for the future.
As education leaders chart a path forward to address disrupted learning and the social emotional impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Linked Learning Alliance released a brief and series of case studies exploring funding practices and policies from three California school districts to better understand how they ensure students are connected to a sense of purpose and on the path to college and career success.
In April, the United States Department of Education (ED) released the ED COVID-19 Handbook: Roadmap to Reopening Safely and Meeting all Students' Needs. Linked Learning was included as an evidence-based strategy for accelerating learning as students return to in-person instruction. The Linked Learning field worked tirelessly throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to keep students connected to trusted adults and meaningful learning; we are so pleased to see their efforts recognized in this handbook.
In partnership with SRI Education, the Linked Learning Alliance released a suite of research exploring the impact of seven Linked Learning health pathways in Oakland Unified School District. The research found that students participating in the Oakland Health Pathway Project earned more high school credits, graduated at increase rates, and enrolled in college at higher rates than their peers in traditional high schools. The research was featured in both EdSource and WorkingNation as more schools and districts look to innovate college and career learning for students.
After a school year like no other, the Linked Learning field came together to reflect and celebrate together. During a Kiva-style symposium, practitioners and community members shared what they had learned over the past year and looked ahead towards goals for the upcoming school year. The field also celebrated their incredible accomplishments with a keynote address from Linda Darling-Hammond and congratulatory video from policymakers across California.
To keep students connected to each other, their paths to purpose, and Linked Learning resources even after high school graduation, the Linked Learning Alliance launched the Student Alumni Network. We held a launch event featuring panels of industry experts and Linked Learning alumni sharing insights on their career trajectories and an alumni-hosted Instagram Live to discuss finding community on college campuses. We look forward to hosting more events with more alumni in 2022!
Despite all the challenges of COVID-19, the Linked Learning field continued to demonstrate their commitment to high-quality college and career learning for young people with five new pathways becoming Gold Certified: Los Angeles High School of the Arts at RFK Community Schools (Los Angeles USD), Biomedical & Engineering at STEM Academy of Hollywood (Los Angeles USD), Huntington Park Institute of Applied Medicine at Linda Esperanza Marquez High School (Los Angeles USD), New Media Academy at Hollywood Senior High School (Los Angeles USD), and Digital Design and Communications at Pacific High School (San Bernardino City USD).
Six pathways met an important milestone in the Linked Learning journey by becoming Silver certified this year: Academy of Health Sciences at Lindsay High School (Lindsay USD), Sato Academy of Math & Science (Long Beach USD), LEAPS at Jordan High School (Long Beach USD), Global Media Studies Magnet at Grover Cleveland High School (Los Angeles USD), Animation at RFK Community Schools for the Visual Arts and Humanities (Los Angeles USD), STEAM at Roosevelt High School (Los Angeles USD), Information Technology and Digital Media at Oakland Unity High School, Video Production at Port of Los Angeles High School (charter), Education and Child Development Pathway at Sanger High School (Sanger USD).
With an influx of new funding committed to recovering from the social and educational impacts of COVID-19, summer 2021 was the time to invest in accelerated learning opportunities for young people. In collaboration with Partnership for Children and Youth, the Linked Learning Alliance released A Summer Like No Other: Accelerating Learning for High School Students. This brief outlines five areas of action—practical, scalable solutions that every education decision makers should consider as they planned for summer and beyond.
The Alliance for Excellent Education, in partnership with the Linked Learning Alliance, College in High School Alliance, Everyone Graduates Center, and National College Attainment network, released a new guide that detailed available COVID-19 funding and how districts can invest these funds in evidence-based strategies. The guide includes Linked Learning as an approach to support student learning and support with COVID-19 funding.
In July, California Governor Gavin Newsom passed a historic budget for K-12 and higher education. The budget doubled the Career Technical Education Innovation Grant (CTEIG) funding, thanks in part to lessons and insights from over a decade of success in the Linked Learning field. Additionally, the budget increased focus on A-G expansion and support, student supports, community schools, and other programming that supports the Linked Learning approach across pathways.
After a successful inaugural program in fall 2020, Linked Learning 101 returned! Over the course of a four-part workshops, participants dug into the core principals of Linked Learning. The field helped co-design and facilitate the workshop series, and contributed a rich playlist of videos to bring to life the Linked Learning experience. In conjunction with Linked Learning 101, the Alliance released a new set of resources for pathways and districts to guide their Linked Learning journey and released a new video featuring alumni, industry partners, and education leaders on the value of the Linked Learning approach and the Alliance’s role in moving the work forward.
Anne was featured in The 74 Million for a second time this year, this time alongside The Lumina Foundation's Chauncy Lennon. They wrote that our education system owes young people clarity, guidance, and relevance at both the high school and college level, and it needs to deliver them as a united force.
Thanks to a strong showing from the field during public voting, the Linked Learning Alliance was selected to participate in South by Southwest Edu 2022! With over 800 applicants this year, it is an honor to be included. We will be presenting Scaling Equity in Health Careers. Leaders and industry partners from Oakland and Los Angeles USD will join Anne to showcase how high schoolers are dismantling racial and ethnic representation disparities in healthcare careers everyday through Linked Learning college and career pathways, and how these pathways increase graduation rates for students of color. We can't wait to see you in Austin in the spring!
November was filled with events for the Alliance and our partners. For the first time this year, we gathered in person to present at the Association for California School Administrators Leadership Summit. Anne was joined by students and leaders from Oakland USD, along with our partners at Strada Education Network, to share insights into how young people are experiencing education during COVID-19 and what they need to stay on their path to purpose as they transition from high school into postsecondary opportunities. We also hosted two virtual events: Keeping the Momentum from Summer 2021and Measure What Matters. Keeping the Momentum from Summer 2021 featured the Partnership for Children and Youth and district partners to share how they leveraged COVID-19 funding to expand accelerated learning for high schoolers. Measure What Matters brought together Envision Learning Partners, Center for Innovation in Education, and district partners from across the country to discuss the value of performance assessment during and beyond COVID-19.
We can't wait to see what 2022 brings the Linked Learning field and the Linked Learning Alliance. We wish everyone a restful, rejuvenating winter break!