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Partnership for Children and Youth Report Highlights Summer Innovations in Linked Learning Pathways

November 4, 2021 | Linked Learning Alliance

While COVID-19 brought a myriad of challenges to districts, so too did reopening classroom doors as the pandemic subsided. Districts needed to bridge the academic, social-emotional, and career readiness gaps created by distance learning and reengage young people in the high school experience. Compared to the elementary school level, high school learners were often left out of summer learning opportunities. Despite the lack of investment in high school students, many districts leveraged summer enrichment programs between the 2020-21 and 2021-22 school years to tackle and credit recovery, college and career readiness, social emotional learning, and peer connection. The Linked Learning Alliance chronicled these innovations in a report co-authored by Partnership for Children and Youth this past summer.

Partnership for Children and Youth’s new report, 2021 Bright Spot: How California educators uplifted summer for re-engagement, reconnection, and reimagining learning, provides the landscape of the state’s 2021 publicly funded summer learning programs, including the trends, best practices, challenges, and innovative ideas.

Linked Learning is featured as a systemic solution to post-COVID disengagement, with Linked Learning pathways innovating to keep students linked to college, career, and community learning. Students in Elk Grove Unified School District pathways had work-based learning opportunities connected to their industry theme and had access to career readiness courses that focused on resume building, networking, and more. Based on their pathway’s industry, students interned in building trades, education and youth development, and public service fields. Based on the program, students were either paid or received high school credit for their internship experience. These social capital building opportunities help to better prepare young people for the transition from high school into postsecondary education.

Antelope Valley Union High School’s Eastside High School, home to the Gold Certified Biomedical Academy, partnered with detectives and forensic scientists to make higher-order mathematics hands-on and relevant to the pathway theme. Specifically designed for incoming freshmen, this math program helped prepare students for the applied mathematics they would encounter in their biomedical pathway. Students in Lancaster and Palmdale High Schools worked alongside NASA engineers to design supply transport vehicles for essential COVID-19 supplies.

The Linked Learning Alliance and Partnership for Children and Youth hosted a webinar to explore the findings of 2021 Bright Spot and expand on the high school learning experiences districts offered more deeply. The webinar featured:

  • Kristen Boroski, CTE Director, Fresno Unified School District
  • Sandra Ayala Padilla, Junior, McLane High School, Fresno Unified School District
  • Duane Robertson, CTE Coordinator, Antelope Valley Union High School District
  • Betsy McKinstry, CTE/College and Career Director, Antelope Valley Union High School District
  • Erin Sipes, Expanded Learning Coordinator, Elk Grove Unified School District
  • Sue Hubbard, Program Specialist, Elk Grove Unified School District

You can view the conversation here.

While this summer was full of innovation and engagement at the high school level, education leaders must do more to prioritize secondary students for expanded learning funding. Districts must continue to find innovative ways to reengage young people in their education after COVID-19. As schools look ahead to summer 2022 and beyond, they can leverage Linked Learning as an approach to deliver expanded learning to provide students with engaging, valuable experiences that keep them on the path towards high school completion, postsecondary attainment, economic prosperity, and civic engagement.