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Linked Learning Alliance Launches New Gold Certification Standards and Process

September 18, 2019 | Linked Learning Alliance

SAN FRANCISCO—The Linked Learning Alliance today introduces a new process and standards for Linked Learning Gold CertificationTM designed to help school districts that are applying the Linked Learning approach ensure that their college and career pathways are operating with high quality. Gold certification standards were piloted during the 2018-19 school year and enhanced with field input to emphasize integrated college and career learning experiences and equitable outcomes for all students.

Linked Learning is a proven approach to education dedicated to the idea that students work harder and dream bigger when their learning connects with them and connects them to the world. It combines four core components: rigorous academics, career technical education, work-based learning, and comprehensive support services. Linked Learning helps students prepare for both college and career, and grow through real work experiences so they can fully participate in shaping civic, cultural, and economic life.

Districts seek certification from the Linked Learning Alliance to ensure that college and career pathways are providing students with the relevant and rigorous education experience that positions them for success after high school. Certification standards were developed in collaboration with the diverse field of Linked Learning educators and support continuous improvement of pathways. Pathways gain Silver certification when they establish the core components of Linked Learning and achieve Gold certification when they demonstrate quality and fidelity to the four components of Linked Learning.

The launch of the new process and standards for Gold certification marks an important milestone for the Alliance as we work to create a prosperous and equitable future in which every school, every employer, and every community is well-positioned to prepare students for success by bringing learning to life

“The launch of the new process and standards for Gold certification marks an important milestone for the Alliance as we work to create a prosperous and equitable future in which every school, every employer, and every community is well-positioned to prepare students for success by bringing learning to life,” said Anne Stanton, president and CEO of the Linked Learning Alliance.

The new standards are released at a critical time for the nation’s schools, communities, and economic prospects. Educators need evidence-based, systemic strategies to provide students with relevant and rigorous education experiences that connect learning to their lives outside of the classroom. Postsecondary leaders are seeking solutions that break down barriers between K–12 schools, postsecondary education, and the workforce to ensure students persist through college and are well-positioned for rewarding careers. Meanwhile, industry leaders need a pipeline of talented future employees to thrive in the new knowledge economy.

Linked Learning Gold certification paves the way for students to successfully transition to college and careers through a potent combination of effective practices that include student-centered learning connected to postsecondary and industry priorities requirements; a continuum of meaningful work experiences and real-world applications of learning; and supports that meet the social, emotional, and developmental needs of each young person.

“Gold Certification helped our district launch a collaborative effort integrating rigorous academics with real life learning and engaging with partners across the community,” said Dr. Dale Marsden, superintendent of the San Bernardino City Unified School District. “Getting students focused on both college and career and providing them with meaningful time in real-world workplaces are the key ingredients to success for our kids. We understand what an honor it is to have our college and career pathways recognized as a Gold and look forward to using certification to continue motivating students to reach for their unlimited potential.”

The Linked Learning approach, piloted in nine California districts a decade ago, is now embraced as the premier college and career readiness strategy for districts across the state. Independent evaluation shows that the approach benefits students in urban, rural, and suburban settings, and is especially valuable to young people entering ninth grade with low prior academic achievement. According to research conducted by SRI International, quality is to key to driving positive outcomes for students in certified Linked Learning pathways. The longitudinal study found statistically significant impacts for students in certified Linked Learning pathways compared with similar students in traditional high school programs; the findings did not hold for students in pathways that had not been certified.

Today, Linked Learning is working in 70 California school districts, with 505 pathways operating in 215 high schools. Last spring the Alliance announced the first cohort of 12 pioneering Gold-certified pathways in five school districts in California, including:

Antelope Valley Unified School District

  • Biomedical Science Academy at Eastside High School
  • Multimedia and Engineering Academy at Lancaster High School

Carlsbad Unified School District

  • Film Academy at Carlsbad High School

Los Angeles Unified School District

  • Critical Design and Gaming School at Augustus Hawkins High School
  • East Los Angeles Performing Arts Academy at Torres East Los Angeles Performing Arts Magnet
  • Environmental Science, Engineering & Technology at Carson High School
  • Medical and Health Sciences Pathway at Theodore Roosevelt High School

Long Beach Unified School District

  • Academy of Law and Justice at Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo High School
  • Criminal Justice and Investigation Pathway at Ernest McBride High School
  • Engineering Pathway at Ernest McBride High School

San Bernardino City Unified School District

  • CORE Academy at Arroyo Valley High School
  • PLTW Biomedical Academy at Pacific High School
For far too long, we have reserved the most challenging, enriching, and engaging learning opportunities for a small segment of our nation’s students, and our future workforce

said Stanton. “Gold certification, which now reflects the evolving needs of educators, students, and local economies, provides K–12 schools, postsecondary institutions, and industry leaders with a common roadmap that has the potential to advance education and economic equity for all.”

With 12 Gold pathways in California and hundreds of Silver-certified pathways striving for Gold, the Linked Learning field is moving closer to the day when all students have the ability to light their own path to success in college, career, and life.