S.B. Schools: Gold Certified Career/College Pathways
Leaders from the San Bernardino City Unified School District (SBCUSD) and the Linked Learning Alliance joined elected officials and industry partners in congratulating three educational pathways for achieving Linked Learning Gold certification. The pathways—the Digital Media Arts Academy and the Business and Logistics Academy at Arroyo Valley High School and the Digital Design and Communications Academy at Pacific High School—are among some of the first in the nation to achieve this distinction.
In contrast with traditional high school, where college-prep curriculum is confined to the classroom and some students pursue career-technical opportunities separately, pathways like those powered by the Linked Learning approach bring it all together. Rigorous academics are integrated with career-technical studies, work-based learning, comprehensive student supports, and accelerated college opportunities like dual enrollment. Pathways help students connect to real-world relevance and their sense of purpose.
To achieve positive outcomes for students, communities, and employers, Linked Learning must be delivered in ways that provide high-quality classroom and workplace experiences. This is why districts seek certification from the Linked Learning Alliance to validate the quality of their college and career pathways. Pathways gain Silver certification when they establish the core components of Linked Learning and achieve Gold certification when they demonstrate high-quality implementation of these components and equitable opportunities for all students.
“We always do what’s best for kids, and preparing all students for both college and career is what’s best for them now and for their future,” said SBCUSD Superintendent Doc Ervin. “Not only does it mean our students are ready to enter the workforce with marketable skills right out of high school, which maximizes their lifetime earning potential, but programs like Linked Learning allow students to better understand the connection between classwork and real life, which helps prepare them for higher education and to become lifelong learners.”
There are currently 19 Gold Linked Learning pathways in California, of which 5 are in SBCUSD. In San Bernardino City Unified, the Digital Media Arts Academy and the Business and Logistics Academy at Arroyo Valley High School and the Digital Design and Communications Academy at Pacific High School join the C.O.R.E. (Constructing Opportunities in Renewable Energy) Academy at Arroyo Valley High School and Project Lead the Way Biomedical Science Academy at Pacific High School in achieving Gold.
With the Digital Design and Communications Academy’s Gold achievement, Pacific High School is now the first high school in the nation to achieve Gold schoolwide, meaning all Linked Learning students are enrolled in Gold-certified pathways. San Andreas High School, an SBCUSD continuation high school, earned Linked Learning Silver certification for both its Business and Technology Pathway and its Health Science Pathway. It is one of only two continuation high schools in California to have earned Silver certification. In addition, the IB Film Theory and Production pathway and Behavioral Health & Human Services pathway at Cajon High School received Silver Certification. They are the first pathways at the school to earn certification.
Dr. Ricardo Esquivel, Assistant Superintendent of Equity, Access & Innovation, oversees the College and Career Success/Linked Learning Department for SBCUSD. “I am very proud of the work we’re doing to expand access to quality college and career preparation for all students,” Dr. Esquivel said. “Linked Learning Gold and Silver pathways are a part of that, along with our efforts at all grade levels to inspire students to find the connection between school and career opportunities, such as the CorelDRAW and AutoCAD Labs at Norton Elementary or the STEM Pathway at Curtis Middle School.”
Research by SRI International shows that Linked Learning benefits students in urban, rural, and suburban settings. When compared with their peers in traditional high school programs, students in quality Linked Learning pathways complete more college preparatory courses, are less likely to drop out of high school, and are more likely to graduate within four years. Students entering ninth grade with low achievement scores demonstrate greater academic success in certified Linked Learning pathways and are more likely to enroll in college immediately after high school. In addition, English-language learners in certified Linked Learning pathways earn more credits compared with their peers in traditional high school programs. Among African-American students and students with low prior achievement who enroll in college, those in Linked Learning are more likely to enroll in a four-year rather than a two-year institution.
The Linked Learning approach, piloted in nine California districts a decade ago, is now embraced as the high school strategy for a growing number of districts across the state. Currently, California lawmakers are considering $2 billion in funding for college and career pathways and dual enrollment, critical investments in youth during their decade of difference, a period from ages 14 to 24, when research shows young people develop their identities, dispositions, and lifelong aspirations. These planned investments build on our state’s existing pathways to college and career—such as those in SBCUSD—while bringing communities together around a common vision of student success
“The community of San Bernardino shares a strong mutual commitment by educators and industry partners alike to prepare all students for both college and career,” said Anne Stanton, president and CEO of the Linked Learning Alliance. “Too many young people, especially those in marginalized groups, face an ‘or’ in high school. Students are deemed to be college material, or not—and they are tracked away from degrees, high-paying jobs, and economic and social mobility. San Bernardino is activating the ‘and’—uniting college and career learning, creating a much stronger equation with real benefits to our students, communities, and economy.”