Expanding Learning Opportunities to Prepare Students for College and Career

On Monday, December 12th, the Alliance for Excellent Education held a Webinar, “Expanded Learning Opportunities: A More Comprehensive Approach to Preparing High School Students for College and a Career,” where panelists Milton Chen, Senior Fellow at Edutopia;  Maria Ferguson, Vice President of the Alliance for Excellent Education; Jeannie Oakes, Director of Educational Opportunity and Scholarship Programs at the Ford Foundation; Brad Stam, Vice President of ConnectEd: The California Center for College and Career; and Elliot Washor, Cofounder and Codirector of Big Picture Learning, discussed how expanded learning opportunities (ELOs) can create a range of opportunities to improve student outcomes. The panelists shared their thoughts, experiences, and recommendations on three main topical areas: 1) the importance and potential of ELOs in engaging students in the real-world application of knowledge and skills to prepare them to be college and career ready; 2) current structural barriers to the broader implementation of expanded learning opportunities and what schools and districts can do to address those barriers; and 3) the role of federal policy in supporting the scale up of these type of opportunities. In addition to the discussion, the Webinar included a short video clip from Palmdale High School (California) that highlighted some of the high quality ELOs offered to students exploring the health care field. Across panelists, common themes emerged:
  • ELOs can provide students with application-driven education experiences; however current structures around time, place, and instructional delivery often prevent schools and districts from maximizing the potential of these experiences.
  • Schools and districts can support the development and increase the use of ELOs by focusing efforts on breaking down the silos between academic and career and technical programs, and building relationships between schools, community organizations and business to develop clear educational pathways grounded in real-world application.
  • States can encourage the scale up of ELOs by creating policies that allow students to earn credit through participation in these types of experiences and by developing good policies regarding common quality standards.
View the full Webinar, including presentation slides from the event, at the Alliance’s Web page at: http://media.all4ed.org/webinar-dec-12-2011. The Alliance’s recent issue brief, Expanded Learning Opportunities: A More Comprehensive Approach to Preparing High School Students for College and a Career, is also available.   Note: This blog post was originally authored under the auspices of the National High School Center at the American Institutes for Research (AIR). The National High School Center’s blog, High School Matters, which ran until March 2013, provided an objective perspective on the latest research, issues, and events that affected high school improvement. The CCRS Center plans to continue relevant work originally developed under the National High School Center grant. National High School Center blog posts that pertain to CCRS Center issues are included on this website as a resource to our stakeholders.

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