The study took place in two high-poverty, low-achieving high schools in the San Bernardino City Unified School District (SBCUSD) in California: Arroyo Valley High School and San Bernardino High School.
In the analytic sample for the confirmatory contrasts (n=639), 19.1% were English Language Learners, 50.2% were female, 87.9% identified as Latina/o. Almost all students received free or reduced-price lunch (96.7%).
ConnectEd, The California Center for College and Career, supported San Bernardino City Unified School District to develop a system of Linked Learning career-themed academies both by supporting the creation of new pathways and the further development of existing California Partnership Academies. Linked Learning career-themed academies combined college-focused academics, rigorous technical education, work-based learning, and personalized student supports in small cohorts in grades 9–12. To support the development of these academies, ConnectEd provided San Bernardino with a system of supports at various levels within the district and schools including coaching and professional development for the district leadership team, the district Linked Learning Director, school administrators, school-based coaches, and academy teachers. ConnectEd also supported the district to make changes to support the academies, including clear messaging and vision, staffing (e.g., a district Linked Learning coordinator, consistent staffing within academies), and development of school master calendars that support consistent student enrollment in academy classes.
Students in the comparison condition chose to participate in the traditional academic programs at their school in 2014-15, when they were in 10th grade. Comparison students could choose to transfer into a CPA in 11th or 12th grade.
Support for implementation
The California Center for College and Career Readiness (Connected) partnered with the study schools to develop and implement their CPAs between the 2014-15 and 2016-17 school years. Implementation supports included professional development events (in-person trainings or workshops, online learning opportunities, and individual and group coaching), as well as development of systems and policies (e.g., school choice and transportation policies, leadership capacity) that allow for Linked Learning pathways to be successfully implemented.