Beyond High School: Efforts to Improve Postsecondary Transitions Through Linked Learning

On October 9, 2014, The Alliance for Excellent Education hosted a webinar titled “Beyond High School: Efforts to Improve Postsecondary Transitions Through Linked Learning.”  The focus of this webinar was to explore and discuss Linked Learning, an educational approach being implemented in select California high schools, and its success in supporting the transition from high school to postsecondary education and careers.

Educational and workforce context: By 2018, about two thirds of all U.S. jobs will require some postsecondary training.

What is Linked Learning? Linked Learning provides students with not only academic learning, but also career-based learning and workplace experience. Practices include high expectations for all students, rigorous and inquiry-based instruction, and a significant shift from task-based instruction to mastery.

Why Linked Learning? A recently completed study on Linked Learning compared the University of California “a-g” high school course requirement completion rates between two Linked Learning schools and two traditional schools. (The a-g requirements are a prerequisite for students applying to California state colleges.) In the two Linked Learning schools, nearly all students completed the a-g coursework; in the two traditional schools, the study found a large discrepancy in a-g completion rates.

A Linked Learning student. A webinar panelist and Linked Learning alumna noted how her work-based experience at Arthur A. Benjamin Health Professions High School gave her hands-on experience in the field of medicine. She is now enrolled in a postsecondary program studying to become a nurse.

A statewide approach to career pathways. California is building off of approaches such as Linked Learning and taking these practices statewide. For example, the state recently funded the California Career Pathways Trust, a $250 million competitive grant program focused around career pathways. The grant will fund regional partnerships between institutions of higher education, school districts, and employers to develop K–14 pathways. A webinar panelist expressed excitement that policymakers in California are starting to see career-based education as a serious topic for legislation.   

A community college approach to career pathways. Pasadena City College (PCC) received a $15 million  Career Pathways Trust award. In order to alleviate the need for remediation—currently needed by approximately 80 percent of all incoming students—PCC developed a program based on best practices. Called PCC’s First Year Pathways, the program includes outreach and recruitment, preassessment workshops, priority registration, and student success teams. In the first year of the program, the average number of credits a First Year Pathways student earned was 32 compared with 20 for non-Pathways students. Moreover, 81 percent of Pathways students persisted into their second year, a staggering increase from the otherwise 59 percent.

Jeremy Rasmussen is a project associate at the College and Career Readiness and Success Center.


Photo credit: Flickr


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