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Linked Learning

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Linked Learning: Pathways to College & Career Success - Home

Vision: Engaging Every Student, Every Day in a Linked Learning Experience.

Whether they aspire to become doctors or medical technicians, professors or scientists, architects or carpenters, ALL students hunger for the answer to a simple question: "Why do I need to learn this?" Students want a Linked Learning experience that gives relevance to rigor.

Linked Learning transforms student's high school experience by bringing together:

  • Challenging Academics for college preparation are studied through a real world profession.
  • Technical Skills that link academics with a professional career are taught through hands-on classroom work.
  • Work-based Learning focused on a continuum of experiences ranging from career awareness and exploration to actual career preparation.
  • Student Support provided through mentoring, tutoring, career counseling and family support services.

Used in schools throughout California, this integrated approach helps students build a strong foundation for success in college and career - and life.

Through our Smaller Learning Communities / Pathway Programs, Linked Learning has become the engine to drive this high school reform. It delivers everything our high school students need: academic preparation for college and professional skills for success in the real world. Students are treated like adults and work as a team with teachers, businesses, technical experts and mentors. They study through a profession that interests them, learning challenging academics and professional skills in the classroom while getting real world experience.

Smaller Learning Communities (SLC's) / Pathways that connect learning with students' interests and job preparation, lead to higher graduation rates, increased postsecondary enrollments, higher earning potential and greater civic engagement.
They prepare students for career and a full range of postsecondary options: 2- and 4-year colleges/universities, apprenticeships, the military, and formal job training.

Why Linked Learning?  History in Long Beach Details | Hide

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ConnectEd: The California Center for College and Career reports that California high schools are not working for large numbers of young people, with students feeling disengaged, unchallenged, or unclear about the relevance of school.

Linked Learning, one answer to this problem, is flourishing in high schools throughout California, with promising results. However, its reach is limited in most school districts to one or two programs at a particular high school. In order to make Linked Learning available to a broad range of students, successful district-level models are needed.

In response to this reality, a wide group of stakeholders (parents, community partners, businesses, school site personnel, and district personnel) collaborated over the course of one year to better define what the Academic and Career Success For All Initiative would look like at our Long Beach high schools. From this rich work emerged the High School Reform Initiative (2009-2014) Download .PDF File (Requires .PDF Reader) , which clearly defines how our high schools will transform the diploma from a certificate of completion to a "Passport to Opportunity," by 2014.

All of these efforts highlight the Goals and Objectives of the Long Beach Unified School District Strategic Plan 2011-2016

While there is no single way to implement a pathway and while our SLC's / Pathway are in various stages of development, each embraces four guiding principles and four core components:

Guiding Principles Details | Hide

Each SLC/ Pathway is grounded in a set of four guiding principles.

  1. Preparing students for postsecondary education and career

    An SLC / Pathway is always about both objectives; it's never a choice between one or the other. Here's why: The probability of making a living wage in today's economy without some form of postsecondary education is already low and will only diminish. Increasingly, career success depends on postsecondary education and gaining a formal credential, a certificate, associate's degree, bachelor's degree, or higher level of achievement. If there ever was a day when high schools could be content to prepare some students just for college and others just for work, that day is past.
  2. Leading students to the full range of postsecondary opportunities

    SLC's / Pathways prepare students for all the avenues they might pursue following high school graduation: two– and four–year college, certification programs, apprenticeships, formal job training, and military service. Each pathway represents a broad industry theme that can appeal to and engage a student regardless of his or her prior academic achievement and postsecondary aspirations. Pathways can eliminate current practices that sort and track high school students in ways that limit their options after high school.
  3. Connecting academics to real–world applications

    Each SLC / Pathway integrates challenging academics with a demanding career and technical curriculum. By linking student interests with academics and real world professions, Linked Learning motivates students and families; helps them create strong working relationships with teachers, fellow students and professional experts; and provides students with the confidence, knowledge and skills to be prepared for college, career and the path in life they choose. Pathways alter how core academic subjects are taught; they do not lower expectations about what is taught. Through the pathways approach, students are expected to achieve at high levels in mathematics, science, English, social studies, and foreign language. Students master these subjects through the power of real-world application—they learn by being presented with authentic problems and situations that are part of the modern workplace.
  4. Improving student achievement

    SLC's / Pathways are based on accountability. They are designed to produce higher levels of accomplishment in a number of measurable arenas, including academic and technical scores, high school completion, postsecondary transitions to career and education, and attainment of a formal postsecondary credential. They also contribute, in ways that most conventional academic and career and technical education curricula do not, to increased student proficiency in vital areas such as critical thinking, problem solving, media and information literacy, and collaboration. Finally, pathways make an immediate difference— helping young people gain higher earnings right after high school and giving these students a leg up in the labor market while they pursue postsecondary education.

Source: ConnectEd Website

Core Components Details | Hide

Each SLC / Pathway is organized around a major industry sector such as finance and business; health science and medical technology; or engineering. In turn, each pathway contains four essential ingredients.

  1. A challenging academic component prepares students for success— without remediation— in California’s community colleges and universities, as well as in apprenticeships and other postsecondary programs. Academics relate to the industry theme when possible and include:
    • English—four years
    • Mathematics—including algebra, geometry, and advanced algebra or statistics
    • Science—two years including biology, chemistry, or physics
    • Social Studies—three years including American and world history, U.S. government and economics
    • Foreign language—two years emphasizing oral communication and cross–cultural understanding
    • Visual and performing arts—one year
  2. A demanding technical component delivers concrete knowledge and skills through a cluster of three or more technical courses. The focus is on preparing youth for high–skill, high–wage employment through an emphasis on real–world applications that bring academic and technical learning to life.
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    A work–based learning component offers opportunities to learn through real–world experiences. Students gain access to intensive internships, virtual apprenticeships, and school–based enterprises. These experiences complement classroom instruction, helping sharpen students’ desire to increase knowledge and skills relevant to their career interests.
  4. Support services include counseling as well as additional instruction in reading, writing, and mathematics. In the best application, each pathway spans grades nine to 12 and connects directly to a set of postsecondary options.

Source: ConnectEd Website

What Linked Learning Means for Students Details | Hide

Success. Linked Learning does what a high school education is supposed to do: prepare young adults for success in college, career and the real world. Students graduate with the skills for advancement: the academics for college; the professional preparation to start a career immediately, during or after college; and the competitive advantage of having hands-on experience. They graduate knowing more and knowing how to work with others to get things done and earn a good living.

With Linked Learning, students in a building and engineering pathway might learn about geometry and algebra while designing and building a structure. Students in an arts, media, and entertainment pathway might learn persuasive writing skills while developing business plans, or creative writing skills while drafting scripts. The success of Linked Learning is grounded in its relevancy and rigor. Pathways connect learning with students' interests and career aspirations. They also connect to actual needs in our state's economy, and they help motivate young people to learn by answering the question: "Why do I need to learn this?"

While any school can be theme based, a key difference with pathways is that academic course content is coordinated with and reinforces technical course content and vice versa. The science teacher learns from the technical teacher what students did not understand in class and then can review those theories. Likewise, the technical instructor learns what theories to bring to life in the next hands-on technical class. This coordination helps students gain a greater depth of knowledge by seeing the connection between academic theories and real-world applications.

Source: ConnectEd Website

Linked Learning in Long Beach High Schools Details | Hide

Though our SLC's / Pathways are in various stages of development, our schools are making great progress in implementing Linked Learning, with a focus on the following industry sectors:

Avalon High School


Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo High School

  • Arts and Multimedia (SACMAA)
  • Business (CAB)
    National Academy Foundation Academy
  • Engineering and Design (CED)
  • Law and Legal Services (CAL-J)
    California Partnership Academy
  • Medical (CHOC)
  • Visit Website

California Academy of Math and Science


David Starr Jordan High School

  • Architecture, Construction and Engineering (ACE)
    LL Certified June 2010
    California Partnership Academy
  • Arts (ETA)
  • Business, Entertainment, Travel, Trade and Tourism (BESTT)
    National Academy Foundation Academy
  • International Baccalaureate (IB)
  • Media and Communications (JMAC)
    LL Certified
    June 2013
  • Medical Services (AIMS)
    California Partnership Academy
  • Transportation (J-Tech)
  • Public Service (Panther Academy)
  • Visit Website

Lakewood High School

  • Engineering and Information Technology (ATM/STEM)
  • Health Medical (LASER)
  • Trade Commerce and Business (TCB)
    National Academy Foundation Academy
  • Visual and Performing Arts (The Arts)
  • Visit Website

McBride High School


Robert A. Millikan High School


Polytechnic High School

  • Arts Media and Entertainment (METS)
  • Engineering (BEACH)
  • International Trade (PAC-RIM)
    California Partnership Academy
  • Medical and Paramedical Services (MAPS)
  • Public Service (Humanities)
  • Visit Website

Renaissance High School for the Arts


Career and College Readiness: Graduate Profile Details | Hide

All students will attain proficiency in the core content areas and graduate from high school prepared for post-secondary and career options. Students will grow into life long and self-directed learners and will become proficient in new areas through research and inquiry. Above and beyond academic proficiency and meeting graduation requirements, students will become:

College and Career-Ready Scholar: Graduates will develop and manage a college and career plan, and demonstrate application of academic and workplace competencies within a chosen career field.

Critical and Innovative Problem Solver: Graduates will understand the nature of problems, create innovative solutions, and make informed decisions by using critical and creative thinking, logical reasoning, analysis, inquiry, and problem-solving techniques.

Adaptable and Productive Citizen: Graduates will act as a productive citizen by demonstrating responsibility and flexibility in fulfilling personal, professional, and community expectations.

Ethical Decision Maker: Graduates will display personal and professional integrity by demonstrating leadership, effective decision-making, and ethical personal and professional management skills.

Effective Communicator and Collaborator: Graduates will demonstrate leadership qualities through the ability to effectively communicate, collaborate, innovate, and think creatively.

To Learn More:


Long Beach Unified School District • 1515 Hughes Way, Long Beach CA 90810 • (562) 997-8000 • www.lbschools.net