Thursday, September 13, 2012


By Tom Chorneau | SI&A Cabinet Report |

Wednesday, September 12, 2012 :: A push to expand linked learning in California launched Tuesday with a new state program that offers a slew of support services rather than traditional grant funding.

As perhaps a model for jump-starting new initiatives in an era of limited resources, the California Department of Education opened applications for up to 20 school districts, county offices of education and direct-funded charter schools to develop district-wide linked learning programs aimed at high school students.

Authorized under AB 790 by Assemblyman Warren Furutani, D-Long Beach, the program is intended to serve as a pilot for expanding project-based learning to other schools and districts across the state.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson noted the success linked learning programs have had in tying together real-world experience and rigorous academics in motivating at-risk students.

“Research shows that students in these programs are not only demonstrably more likely to graduate from high school than their statewide counterparts, but they are graduating with the skills and knowledge that California employers say they need,” Torlakson said in a statement.

“Career technical education overall, of which Linked Learning is an important part, is a powerful motivator for kids and a potential lifesaver for California businesses” he said. “When students see a real pathway between school and careers, they are much more likely to stay on that path. This Linked Learning pilot program will help kids across the state succeed.”

As proposed, the CDE along with the Linked Learning Alliance – a group that includes representatives of community colleges and state universities – have committed to providing technical assistance and support during the setup phase. The intent is to also have participating districts utilize a wealth of knowledge and experience already accumulated by the state’s existing network of linked learning programs.

The CDE noted that a key component of the linked learning program is having access and partnerships with local businesses and professional services that would agree to engage in mentoring activities and internships.

The Linked Learning Alliance counts among its members a number of business groups like the California Chamber of Commerce; union organizations like the State Building and Construction Trade Council; and private firms like Verizon-California.

“Linked Learning is changing the way we – and, more importantly, students – think about the entire high school experience,” said Christopher Cabaldon, executive director of the Linked Learning Alliance in a statement. “I’m delighted to see the launch of this pilot program so that more students can prepare for success in college, careers, and life. We know Linked Learning works, and we know students succeed when they see the connection between what they learn in school and their future aspirations.”

The initial phase of the pilot program will operate in the 2012-13 through 2016-17 school years. The 2012-13 school year will serve as a planning year for participating LEAs.

Districts have been given until the end of November to apply.

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