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Press Release: Linked Learning Alliance Announces New Gold and Silver Certification of Educational Pathways

June 1, 2021 | Linked Learning Alliance

June 1, 2021

Rachel Zaentz
Linked Learning Alliance

Linked Learning Alliance Announces New Gold and Silver Certification of Educational Pathways
Districts recognized for driving educational equity through high-quality college and career preparation

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — While schools work to reimagine education in the wake of COVID-19, efforts to provide meaningful college and career preparation continue across the state. Today, the Linked Learning Alliance is proud to announce that four new pathways in the Los Angeles Unified School District and one new pathway from San Bernardino City Unified School District have achieved Gold Certification.

Linked Learning pathways integrate rigorous academics with technical coursework that is relevant to the needs of local employers, offer students work-based learning experiences aligned with their classes, and provide support services to help students graduate ready for entry into college and career. Certified Linked Learning pathways demonstrate their fidelity to the approach and commitment to the quality implementation associated with improved student outcomes.

Achieving Gold Certification in Los Angeles Unified School District is Los Angeles High School of the Arts at RFK Community Schools, Biomedicine & Engineering pathway at STEM Academy of Hollywood, Huntington Park Institute of Applied Medicine at Linda Esperanza Marquez High School, New Media Academy at Hollywood Senior High School, and in San Bernardino City Unified School District is Digital Design and Communication at Pacific High School.

These newly certified pathways bring the total number of Los Angeles USD pathways earning a Gold distinction to nine, along with the Critical Design and Gaming School (C:/DAGS) at Augustus F. Hawkins High School, East LA Performing Arts Academy (ELAPAA) at Esteban Torres High School, Environmental Science, Engineering & Technology (ESET) pathway at Carson High School, Medical and Health Sciences pathway at Roosevelt High School, and STEM Academy of Boyle Heights. LAUSD pathways achieved Gold using revised standards developed and piloted in collaboration with the Linked Learning field in 2019. It is important to recognize that LAUSD has a longstanding commitment to quality educational experiences and many of these pathways were previously certified through an earlier process developed under the Linked Learning District Initiative.

In San Bernardino City USD, Digital Design and Communication joins Business & Logistics, CORE Academy, and Digital Media Arts at Arroyo Valley High School, along with Project Lead the Way Biomedical Science Academy at Pacific High School. Collectively, these pathways have upheld the highest standard in preparing thousands of students for a full range of postsecondary opportunities and careers that contribute to vibrant community life.

Policymakers and elected officials, including Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond, President, California State Board of Education, Dr. Joseph Castro, Chancellor, California State University, Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell, California Assembly District 70, Dr. Stephanie Gregson, California Chief Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction, Senator Lena A. Gonzalez, California Senate District 33, and Senator Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh, California Senate District 23, recognized the accomplishments of newly certified Linked Learning pathways in a new video released by the Linked Learning Alliance.

“We are so proud that so many LAUSD Linked Learning pathways have achieved Linked Learning Gold Certification,” said Lindsey Corcoran, Linked Learning Director, Los Angeles Unified School District. “Our educators are committed to a high-quality pathway experience for every student, and we work closely with industry partners to integrate academic preparation with rigorous real-world training. Even now, thousands of our students build their knowledge, social capital, and connections through virtual work-based opportunities. Linked Learning is how we accelerate learning across our education and workforce systems.”

Certification is based on a series of standards identified by leaders in the Linked Learning field as crucial for improving student outcomes and preparing all students for college and career. Districts seek certification from the Linked Learning Alliance to validate the quality of their college and career pathways. Pathways gain Silver Certification when they establish the core components of Linked Learning and achieve Gold Certification when they demonstrate high-quality implementation of these components and equitable opportunities for all students.

"Having our school care enough about us to bring professionals to show us how they do their work in real life scenarios inspired me to take my work to the next level,” noted Dustin Godoy, a senior from Los Angeles High School of the Arts at RFK, Los Angeles Unified School District.

In addition, nine new pathways in school districts including Lindsay USD, Long Beach USD, Los Angeles USD, Oakland Unity High School (charter), Port of Los Angeles High School (charter), and Sanger USD achieved Silver Certification.

The newly Silver Certified pathways include:

  • Lindsay Unified School District, Academy of Health Sciences, Lindsay High School
  • Long Beach Unified School District, Sato Academy of Math & Science
  • Long Beach Unified School District, LEAPS, Jordan High School
  • Los Angeles Unified School District, Global Media Studies Magnet, Grover Cleveland High School
  • Los Angeles Unified School District, Animation Pathway, RFK Community Schools for the Visual Arts and Humanities
  • Los Angeles Unified School District, STEAM, Roosevelt High School
  • Oakland Unity High School (charter), Information Technology and Digital Media
  • Port of Los Angeles High School (charter), Video Production
  • Sanger Unified School District, Education, and Child Development Pathway, Sanger High School

Research by SRI International shows that Linked Learning benefits students in urban, rural, and suburban settings. Compared with their peers in traditional high school programs, students in quality Linked Learning pathways complete more college preparatory courses, are less likely to drop out of high school, and are more likely to graduate within four years. Students entering ninth grade with low achievement scores demonstrate greater academic success in certified Linked Learning pathways and are more likely to enroll in college immediately after high school. English language learners in certified Linked Learning pathways earn more credits than their peers in traditional high school programs. Among African American students and students with low prior achievement who enroll in college, those in Linked Learning are more likely to enroll in a four-year rather than a two-year institution.

“The Linked Learning approach allows us to provide a quality, relevant, responsive educational experience that our students and community deserve,” reflected Jonathan Chaikittirattana, principal of Linda Esperanza Marquez High School, Los Angeles Unified School District.

The Linked Learning approach, piloted in nine California districts a decade ago, is now embraced as the high school strategy of choice for a growing number of communities across the state. Today, Linked Learning is working in more than 100 California school districts, with over 550 pathways. The approach is also being adopted in 20 other states, including Michigan, Massachusetts, Texas, Oregon, Wisconsin, and North Carolina. Statewide, there are now 20 Gold Certified Linked Learning pathways and more than one hundred Silver Certified pathways collectively serving thousands of California’s young people.

“Education reform comes from the ground up. When you build a robust program that challenges students academically and prepares them professionally, everyone in the community benefits and lives are changed forever,” said Ali Nezu, Magnet Coordinator, Hollywood High School, New Media Academy Magnet, Los Angeles Unified School District.

As districts transition to distance learning during the COVID-19 crisis, Linked Learning pathways continue to ensure students graduate with the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in college and career. The coronavirus pandemic—with its waves of closures and quarantines, high-speed pivots to distance learning, and devastating societal effects—has disrupted education patterns in unimaginable ways over the past academic year. Amid all this change and challenge, promising solutions are emerging from the highest quality Linked Learning pathways in California.

"Being a part of a Linked Learning school helped me gain both practical and leadership skills that have helped me in every step of my college journey. My pathway classes always kept me engaged and excited to learn about things I had never heard about,” reflected Melisa Rivera De La Roca, an alumna of the STEM Academy of Hollywood in Los Angeles Unified School District. “I learned about all the different careers in health and ways that I could help my community as a student and later on in my chosen career.”

“Like educators everywhere who are taking bold strides for their students in this moment, those leading Linked Learning pathways amid this pandemic understand the urgency of keeping their high schoolers linked—to their teachers and mentors in local industry, to experiences they can build on for their future and ours. Right now, many are collaborating with students and colleagues to innovate new ways of connecting,” said Anne Stanton, president of the Linked Learning Alliance. “This newest cohort of Gold and Silver Certified Linked Learning pathways is another sign of promise and persistence for our students.”


The Linked Learning Alliance is the hub for the Linked Learning movement. We serve a broad coalition of educators, employers, community organizations, and technical assistance providers that together bring Linked Learning to life for hundreds of thousands of young people. We inform and support their work and give it voice. The Alliance was established in May 2008 and incorporated as an independent 501(c)(3) in July 2015.