This summer our district launched into an exciting extension of redesigning high school programs. Funded by the James Irvine Foundation and designed to meet the immediate and future needs of students, the “Linked learning” initiative builds on our past success with high school redesign. This work is closely supported by our partners at ConnectEd: the California Center for College and Career. You may tour what ConnectEd and our partner districts are accomplishing at www.connectedcalifornia.org.
History of Improving High Schools
As many of you know, Sac. City Unified created Small Learning Communities or SLCs at its large, comprehensive high schools. Each SLC has a group of approximately 400 students paired with a cluster of teachers focusing on core subjects which are woven into a career theme. The district also offers enrollment at five small high schools which as a group prepare students for many industry clusters.
The result? Since 2002, Sac City’s high school enrollment, graduation and college going rates have increased. Dropout rates have decreased. Families have 42 options to better meet student interests and learning styles.
Structure and choices are one part of high school redesign, but so are:
- Increased teacher collaboration
- Greater student voice and
- An expansion of student support services
Today: Linked Learning
Our district operates and believes in a culture of continuous improvement. We know that we have dramatically improved our high schools; but we can do more.
This summer, teams of board members, teachers, counselors and administrators worked with 11 other school districts at Stanford University on developing excellent Multiple Pathway Programs.
Four pilot programs from SCUSD participated in the collaborative training process.
- Hiram Johnson Corporate Academy – Hiram Johnson High School
- Green Academy, Energy and Resources – Rosemont High School
- Health Professions – Arthur A. Benjamin Health Professions High School
- Education and Leadership Academy – Hiram Johnson High School
Our “Linked learning” initiative contains the four major components:
- Challenging academics that prepare students to complete post-secondary training.
- Demanding technical courses that provide exciting hands-on learning with 21st century skills.
- Work-based learning experiences that complement classroom instruction.
- Excellent support services for all students.
In a changing global economy, a high school diploma is only the first step toward creating satisfying and productive life for self and family. Research into the success of students who participate in multiple pathways programs vs. those is generic high school programs demonstrate: higher graduation and college going rates than their counterparts, as well as an 11-17% increase in earnings after high school graduation.
Multiple Pathways is about helping students keep options and choices open for students so they are well-prepared to decide the future they want for themselves.
“Linked Learning” offers what students at all levels tell us they want: more relevance greater challenges. It allows students to tap into the vast “funds of knowledge” within our region. The Multiple Pathways model expands opportunities for parent and community engagement as well.
Multiple Pathways will not demand new facilities or great expenditures and the return will be invaluable. It will involve more internships, mentors, and relevant and rigorous hands-on learning for all students.
Please take time to visit our partners in California’s Multiple Pathways initiative at www.connectedcalifornia.org. You will find videos of students speaking to what they are learning in multiple pathways programs across the state.
See how students and schools are moving beyond the past approach of suggesting that students must choose between college or job preparation. As has been said by so many before, Success comes from preparation and opportunity.