California’s ConnectEd pushes the opportunity envelope
Across the U.S. educators and parents are struggling with the same problem: how to get more kids through high school prepared for post-secondary education and life in the working world? Well, the folks at ConnectEd, The California Center for College and Career, are part of a growing movement who think they’ve hit upon the answer. They call it Linked Learning. With Linked Learning, ConnectEd seeks to give high school students a clearer path to success by integrating academic subjects with real world skills and training.
The idea behind Linked Learning is simple—many people learn better and faster and retain the information longer when the subject matter is placed within a real-world context. The ConnectEd program approaches this with integrated curricula they refer to as learning pathways. The pathways integrate traditional academic subjects with hands-on, technical training that includes internship opportunities and job experience. Fifteen pathways have been developed to date, leading to careers in diverse fields such as engineering, health sciences, and the arts, media, and entertainment.
A Linked Learning curriculum is integrated in two directions: academic subjects are taught with an emphasis on practical application of the material, while technical skills and professional training are rooted in academic fundamentals. And though they include hands-on experiences, the pathways are not designed to steer students away from college or in the direction of a specific career. On the contrary, they’re designed to prepare students for success in post-secondary education, whether those are two-year or four-year degree programs. Students aren’t expected to stick to career choices made in ninth grade. The benefit comes from applying a practical approach to a student’s education regardless of their long-term goals.
There’s already evidence that the Linked Learning approach works. Teaching with college and career in mind has improved academic achievement, student engagement, and college readiness. For some students, this is the sort of educational reform that makes a difference…