For many years, high school was the time when students chose to pursue college or a career. But educators today recognize that high schools must prepare all students for both college and career readiness. A recent report from Stanford University says Long Beach is tackling this challenge effectively and creating lasting reform.
Long Beach and some other districts in California are working to improve high schools by connecting strong academics, demanding technical education and real-world experience in a wide range of fields, such as engineering, arts and media, biomedicine and health. This reform model, known as linked learning (or multiple pathways), provides multiyear programs of study that are rigorous, relevant and directly connected to regional and state economic needs. The idea is to prepare students for success in a full array of options after high school.
The recent report from Stanford’s School Redesign Network focuses on Long Beach’s “distributive leadership” method of implementing such reform.
“Rather than an ‘initiative-of-the month’ approach, distributive leadership enables districts to build in structures, capacity and culture that foster systemic change owned and sustained by a broad base of leaders,” states the report, titled “Distributive Leadership in District Reform: A Model for Taking Linked Learning to Scale.”
The report examines Long Beach’s “effective mechanism for including school staff in reform efforts through Pathway Leadership Teams. These teams are school-based and made up of site administrators, teachers, counselors and others. The teams are critical in leading bold change to structures, policies and instructional practices, such as master schedules, curriculum integration and professional development.”
LBUSD provides leadership training and support for pathway leadership team members, including teachers, so they can take the lead in building a school-based culture of collaboration and accountability, the report states. The school district also builds broad-based community support through an Expanding Pathways Implementation Council — a formal steering committee of school site curriculum leaders, postsecondary partners, Regional Occupation Programs and career technical education leaders, principals, counselors, industry and community leaders, executive district staff and others.
The report is supported by a grant from The James Irvine Foundation.
The School Redesign Network was established in 2000 at Stanford University to build, capture and share research-based knowledge to transform secondary schools and school systems.
The Stanford group’s mission is “to help support and sustain equitable schools and districts that are intellectually rigorous, high performing and designed to help all students master the knowledge and skills needed for success in college, career and citizenship.”
The network is affiliated with the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education.