Welcome Message – Dr. Harter

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Table of Contents

Welcome Message – Dr. Harter 6

Acknowledgements 7

Section I – Linked Learning Overview 8

  • Definition of Linked Learning 8

  • Four Critical Elements 8

  • Guiding Principles 9

  • National Standards of Academy Practice 9

Section II – California Partnership Academies 15

  • CPA Overview 15

  • CPA Expenditure Guidelines 18

  • CPA Timelines 22

  • CPA Report Writing 25

  • CPA Annual Conference 27

  • Academy Lead Responsibilities 27

  • Academy Team Responsibilities 35

Section III – Forms 40

  • Photo Release Form 40

  • Study Trip Form 40

  • Linked-Learning Hours Request Form 41

Section IV – Key Contact Information 44

  • WCCUSD Key Contacts 44

  • California Dept. of Ed. Contacts 44

Section V – Calendars and Timelines 45

  • CPA Timeline 45

  • Lead PD Calendar 45

  • District Academic Calendar 45

Section VI – Budgets 47

  • Budget Categories 48

  • Sample Budgets 48

  • Budget Narratives 49

  • District Matching 51

  • Bi-Tech General Information 52

Section VII – Academy Operations – The CCASN Toolbox 52

  • Mentorships and Internships 53

  • Academy Structures 54

  • Teacher Selection and Teaching 55

  • Student Recruitment and Selection 56

  • Student Contracts, Interventions and Recognitions 57

  • Partnerships with Employers and Community 58

  • Parental Involvement 59

  • Connection to Higher Education 62

  • Tracking Progress 63

Section VIII - Working with ConnectEd California 64

  • Pathway Communities of Practice Continuum 64

  • Program of Study Worksheet 69

  • Gap Analysis 71

  • Action Plan Worksheet 79

  • Identifying Program Outcomes 84

  • Pathway Development Continuum 87

  • ConnectEd Studios 92

  • ConnectEd Studios Curriculum Mapping 93

  • Project Design in ConnectEd Studios 94

  • CCRC Resources in ConnectEd Studios 96

  • Linked Learning Certification 97

Section IX – Behaviors of Learning and Teaching Framework 97

  • BLT Context & Link to Full Framework 97

  • BLT Overview 98

Section X – Curriculum Design 99

  • Creating an Integrated Curriculum 99

  • Project Based Learning (PBL) 101

  • Common Assessments & Samples (Formative and Summative) 103

  • Integrating Service Learning 108

Section XI – Advisory Boards 108

  • Developing an Engaged Advisory Board 109

  • Sample Advisory Board Agendas 122

Section XII – Work Based Learning 124

  • Internships 124

  • Mentorships 136

  • Study Trips 136

  • Job Shadowing 136

  • Guest Speakers 136

  • WBL Continuum 137

Section XIII – Useful References 137

  • Useful Web Resources 137

Welcome Message – Dr. Harter

We face unique challenges when striving for high school achievement -- high dropout rates, low postsecondary education rates, and way too many students underperforming. As we continue to implement our Linked Learning strategy, it’s becoming clearer that relevance, relationship and rigor help us create real and long lasting multi-dimensional improvement in student achievement. The early data suggest that students in our career academies are outperforming similar students who are not part of Linked Learning.

By improving the system of how we organize for learning in our schools, we give you, the most important person in the equation, a better chance to be effective in your teaching. With your commitment and full participation in the program, I’m confident that you’ll see increased gains and the sense of increased fulfillment that comes with reaching goals.

This handbook was developed by teachers for teachers. It lays out the Linked Learning program in enough detail to provide the background and context you’ll need without burdening you with everything about the program. Teaching is still the hardest, most vexing job I’ve ever done, and this manual is designed to clarify and make things more straight-forward.

Thank you for being part of the Linked Learning effort. Our students are counting on all of us to work hard and keep their interests and needs at the forefront of everything we do. I greatly appreciate you and all you do for students.

Bruce Harter



The West Contra Costa Unified School District has embarked on a District-wide High School Reform effort to implement Linked-Learning Pathways with the help of several strong partners. Below is a partial list of partners/organizations that have been instrumental in their contributions to this handbook:

College and Career Academy Support Network (CCCASN), University of California Berkeley Graduate School of Education

ConnectEd California

The James Irvine Foundation

Jose Irizarry III, RHS Health Academy Lead

Section I – Linked Learning Overview

What is Linked Learning?

Linked Learning transforms students’ high school experience by bringing together strong academics, demanding career and technical education, and real-world experience to help students gain an advantage in high school, postsecondary educa­tion, and careers. Students follow industry-themed pathways, choosing among fields such as engineer­ing, arts and media, or biomedicine and health. Participation in Linked Learning prepares students to graduate from high school and succeed in a full range of postsecondary options—including two- or four-year colleges, certification programs, appren­ticeships, military service, or formal job training. There is no one right way to implement a pathway. But whatever the strategy, each pathway embraces four guiding principles and four core components. (http://www.connectedcalifornia.org/downloads/LL_Fact_Sheet_web.pdf)

The Four Critical Elements of Linked Learning

1. A challenging academic component prepares students for success—without remediation—in postsecondary programs. Pathways complement traditional learning with project-based instruction that links to real-world applications.

2. A demanding technical component delivers concrete knowledge and skills through a cluster of three or more technical courses.

3. A work-based learning component offers op­portunities to learn through real-world experiences that enhance classroom instruction.

4. Support services include counseling and trans­portation as well as additional instruction in reading, writing, and mathematics to help students succeed with a challenging program of study.


The Guiding Principles of Linked Learning

1. Pathways prepare students for postsecondary edu­cation and career—both objectives, not just one or the other.

2. Pathways lead to a full range of postsecondary and career opportunities by eliminating tracking and keeping all options open after high school.

3. Pathways connect academics to real-world applica­tions by integrating challenging academics with a demanding technical curriculum.

4. Pathways improve student achievement.


The National Academy Standards of Practice

(College and Career Academy Support Network, UC Berkeley Graduate School of Education)

I. Defined Mission & Goals

The career academy has a written definition of its mission and goals. These are available to the administrators, teachers, students, parents, advisory board, and others involved in the academy. These include at least the following elements:

a. To focus on college and career. A career academy’s aim is to prepare students for college and careers. Academies enable students to complete college entrance academic requirements while exposing them to a vertical segment of the occupations within a career field, encouraging them to aim as high as they wish.

b. To raise student aspirations and commitment. An academy seeks to increase the level of students’ motivation while in high school. The biggest limiting factor in many youths’ future plans is not their ability, but where they set their sights.

c. To increase student achievement. An academy provides support to its students to increase their achievement in high school. This comes through close relationships with teachers and fellow students; rigorous and relevant curriculum; and exposure to career and educational options outside the high school.

II. Academy Structure

An academy needs to have a well-defined structure within the high school, reflecting its status as a small learning community.

a. Cross-grade articulation. The academy incorporates at least two grade levels, ending in the senior year, with articulation in its teacher team, curriculum and instruction across grade levels.

b. Student selection. Entry to the academy is voluntary. The recruitment/ selection process is written and widely available. New students are provided an orientation to the academy. Parents participate in this process and approve of their son or daughter’s choice. Academy enrollment reflects the general high school population.

c. Cohort scheduling. Academy classes are limited to academy students, who take a series of classes together each year.

d. Physical space. Where possible, academy classrooms are near each other in the high school building. The academy Coordinator has access to communication outside the high school.

e. Small size, supportive atmosphere. The academy maintains personalization through limited size, teacher teamwork, and a supportive atmosphere.

III. Host District and High School

Career academies exist in a variety of district and high school contexts, which are important determinants of an academy’s success.

a. Support from the Board of Education and Superintendent. The district Board of Education is aware of the academy and its mission and goals, and is on public record in support. Likewise, the Superintendent publicly endorses the academy and offers active support. Both serve as academy liaisons to the broader community.

b. Support from the principal and high school administration. The high school principal and other administrators are knowledgeable of the academy, public advocates for it, and are actively involved in its funding, staffing and support. They contribute to a positive academy profile within the high school.

c. Adequate funding, facilities, equipment and materials. District and high school administrative support results in adequate academy funding, facilities, equipment and learning materials. These reflect a serious commitment from the district and high school to the success of the academy.

IV. Faculty & Staff

Appropriate teacher selection, leadership, credentialing, and cooperation are critical to an academy’s success.

a. Teacher Leader(s)/ Coordinator(s). One teacher (sometimes two) agrees to take the lead, serving as the academy Coordinator(s). This includes attending advisory board meetings, interacting with administrators and board members, managing the budget, helping to coordinate teacher professional development, and helping to coordinate employer, higher education, and parental involvement. Release time and/or a stipend is provided for this role.

b. Teachers are credentialed in their field, volunteers in the academy, and committed to its mission and goals. Since a career academy’s success rests on good teaching and good teamwork among a cross disciplinary group of teachers, they must be well qualified and willingly involved in this role. They understand and support the philosophy and purpose of the academy, work together as a team, teach a majority of their classes in the academy, and cooperatively share the duties of operating an academy.

c. Counselors, non-academy teachers, and classified staff are supportive. Non-academy staff are also important to its operation. Counselors understand the need for cohort scheduling and provide this for academy students. Non-academy teachers understand the value of the academy and help in recruiting students for it and providing departmental support. Classified staff help support the academy facilities, equipment and learning materials.

V. Professional Development

Since an academy places teachers and other adults into roles not normally included in their previous training, providing adequate professional development time, leadership and support is critical.

a. Common planning time. Academy teachers are provided regular common planning time within the regular high school schedule for purposes of program coordination, curricular integration, and resolution of student problems.

b. Teacher professional development. Academy teachers are provided with training in the academy structure, curricular integration, student support, and employer involvement, where necessary by experts from outside the high school.

c. Employee & parent orientation. Employee volunteers are adequately prepared for their roles as speakers, field trip hosts, mentors and internship supervisors. Parents are adequately prepared for their involvement (if any) as classroom aides, field trip chaperones and social event organizers.

VI. Governance & Leadership

The academy has a governing structure that incorporates the views of all stakeholders.

a. Advisory board with broad representation. The advisory board has members from the district and high school administration, academy teaching staff, supporting employers and institutions of higher education. It may also include community representatives, and academy parents and students. The board incorporates viewpoints from all members.

b. Regular meetings. Meetings of the board are held at least quarterly, with defined agendas and outcomes. The board helps to set policies for the academy. It also serves as a center of resource development.

c. A healthy partnership. Both through the advisory board and other interactions, there is evidence of a partnership between the academy/high school and its host community.

d. A student voice. Students have avenues through which they can provide input to the academy policies and practices.

VII. Curriculum & Instruction

The curriculum and instruction within an academy meets or exceeds external standards and college entrance requirements, while differing from a regular high school by focusing learning around a theme.

a. Meets external standards. The academic curriculum is framed around state or national standards, and the career curriculum around industry and SCANS standards.

b. Learning is rigorous and meets college entrance requirements. Coursework reaches high levels of English and math, generally four years of each, in addition to substantial coursework in science and social studies. Graduates are qualified to attend four-year colleges and encouraged to do so.

c. Curriculum is sequenced, integrated and relevant. Curriculum articulates from the beginning of an academy through the senior year, with a defined course sequence and at least two core academic classes and one career/theme class each year. Curriculum is integrated among the academic classes and between these and the career class. Learning illustrates applications of academic subjects outside the classroom, incorporates current technology, and includes authentic project-based learning.

d. Post-graduate planning. Students have access to career and college information, are provided counseling in these respects, and develop a written post-graduate plan by the end of their junior year.

e. Dual credit options. The academy has articulation agreements with local two-and four-year colleges, offers dual credit courses and/or college credit for upperclassmen, and articulates its upper level curriculum with relevant college programs.

VIII. Employer, Higher Education & Community Involvement

A career academy links high school to its host community and involves members of the employer, higher education and civic community in certain aspects of its operation.

a. Career theme fits the local economy. The academy career field is selected to fit with the community industries and employer base, to allow for adequate involvement of volunteer employees in certain of its activities.

b. Community involvement. Representatives of employers, higher education, and the community help to guide the academy’s curriculum, and provide speakers, field trip sites, job shadowing opportunities, mentors, student internships, community service opportunities, college tours and teacher externships.

c. Incorporates citizenship. The academy fosters a culture of respect for others and encourages student contributions as citizens.

d. Work/community based service learning. The academy offers work and/or community based service learning opportunities for all interested students either through paid internships or community service.

IX. Student Assessment

Improvements in student performance are central to an academy’s mission. It is important to gather data that reflects whether students are showing improvement and to report these accurately and fairly to maintain the academy’s integrity.

a. Student data are collected. These data include those necessary to describe the student body within the academy (e.g., grade level, gender, race/ethnicity) and its relationship to the high school in general, as well as student performance on a variety of outcome measures.

b. Multiple academic measures are included. Measures include a variety of accepted indicators of performance (e.g., attendance, retention, credits, grade point averages, state test scores, graduation rates, college going rates).

c. Technical learning is assessed. Measures include knowledge of the field’s terminology, technical concepts, and ability to apply English, math, and other academic skills to authentic real world projects. Where appropriate, industry certification is incorporated.

d. Accurate reporting. Analyses of these data are reported accurately and fairly, regardless of the results.

e. Evidence of impact. These measures show whether, and how much, the academy improves student performance.

X. Cycle of Improvement

No new academy functions perfectly. Even well established and operated academies benefit from self-examination and refinement. Ensuring and improving the quality of a career academy requires engaging in a regular cycle of improvement.

a. Academy implementation is examined. Program leaders regularly assess the academy’s functioning, studying its strengths and weaknesses. This involves gathering feedback from key stakeholders, including students.

b. Academy refinements are planned. These reviews lead to plans to address any problems. Such plans include timetables and benchmarks for improvement.

c. Changes reflect the academy’s mission and goals. The refinements refer back to the academy’s underlying mission and goals.

Section II – California Partnership Academies (CPAs)

The CPA Model is one model of Linked Learning implementation. The CPA Model is the preferred program in the WCCUSD, although there all other models which are in line with the Linked Learning principles and components.

California Partnership Academy Overview


The Academy Model

The Partnership Academy Model is a three-year program, grades ten through twelve, structured as a school-within-a-school. There are currently 340 funded programs throughout California. The model, originating with the Philadelphia Academies in the late 1960s, spread to California in the early 1980s. Academies incorporate many features of the high school reform movement that includes creating a close family-like atmosphere, integrating academic and career technical education, and establishing viable business partnerships. Emphasis is also placed on student achievement and positive postsecondary outcomes. Academies have been carefully evaluated and shown to have positive impacts on school performance. Key components of the Academy model are:

  • CURRICULUM focused on a career theme and coordinated with related academic classes.

  • VOLUNTARY student selection process that identifies interested ninth graders.

  • TEAM OF TEACHERS who work together to plan and implement the program.

  • MOTIVATIONAL ACTIVITIES with private sector involvement to encourage academic and occupational preparation, such as: integrated and project-based curriculum, mentor program, classroom speakers, field trips, and exploration of postsecondary and career options.

  • WORKPLACE LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES such as job shadowing, student internships, and work experience.

Curriculum and Career Focus

The career technical focus for an Academy is determined by an analysis of the local labor market, with an eye toward fields that are growing and healthy, that offer jobs with career "ladders", and that have companies willing to support the program. Career technical education is kept broad, focusing on industries rather than specific jobs in areas such as business technology, health, electronics, media, agribusiness, building trades, natural resources, finance, and retail trade. The integration of a standards-based academic and career-technical curriculum is a key ingredient.


Teachers request to participate in the program and must be willing to work with "at-risk" students. Teachers are required to have a common planning period to meet regularly to:

  • Plan the program activities and curriculum.

  • Coordinate with business representatives.

  • Meet with parents.

  • Discuss student progress.

Student Selection

At least half of each new class must meet specific “at-risk” criteria to determine student eligibility. The remaining one half has no restrictions. The program is voluntary; students must apply, be interviewed, and be selected on the basis of need and interest. About 60-70 students are typically selected for entry each year, enough to comprise two sections of a sophomore class.

Business Involvement

Each Academy has a partnership with employers. Employer representatives:

  • Serve on an Academy steering committee that oversees the program.

  • Help to develop the career technical curriculum.

  • Provide speakers for Academy classes.

  • Host field trips to give students a perspective of the workplace.

  • Provide mentors who serve as career-related role models and personal points of contact in the field of training.

  • Provide internships and summer jobs for Academy students.

The Mentor Program

In the eleventh grade, Academy students are matched with mentors. Mentors are usually employees of participating businesses who volunteer to be a "career-related and/or caring adult" in the student's life.

Internship Program

After their junior year, students performing well enough to be on track for graduation are placed in internship positions. Students apply for these positions as they would in the open market; i.e., they prepare resumes, complete job applications, and have interviews. Companies make the hiring decisions.

Funding and Evaluation

Funding is performance based; only those students meeting the 80 percent attendance and 90 percent credit requirements qualify for funding. State grants must be matched 100 percent by both the receiving district and business partners. Annual evaluations consistently reflect improved student performance on attendance, credits, grade point averages, and graduation rates.

Funding Requirements

Following are the funding requirements for California Partnership Academy grants:

  1. The district provides 100 percent match of state funds received in the form of direct and in-kind supports.

  2. Participating companies or other private-sector organizations provide 100 percent match of state funds received in the form of direct and in-kind support.

  3. State funds provided by the Partnership Academy program are only used for the development, operation, and support of Partnership Academies.

  4. The Academy is established as a "school-within-a-school" with classes restricted to Academy students.

  5. Academy teachers work as a team in planning, teaching, and troubleshooting program activities.

  6. An advisory committee is formed that consists of individuals involved in Academy operations, including school district and school administrators, lead teachers, and representatives of the private sector. The advisory committee meets regularly.

  7. During grades ten and eleven Academy students are provided instruction in at least three academic subjects that contribute to an understanding of the occupational field of the Academy and one career-technical class related to the Academy's occupational field.

  8. Academy classes during twelfth grade may vary, but must include at least one academic and one career technical education class.

  9. The school site class schedule limits Academy classes to Academy students with classes block scheduled whenever possible.

  10. Students are provided with a mentor from the business community during the student's eleventh grade year.

  11. Students are provided with an internship or paid job related to the Academy's occupational field or work experience to improve employment skills during the summer following eleventh grade or during the twelfth grade year.

  12. Students are provided opportunities to engage in additional motivational activities with private sector involvement to encourage academic and occupational preparation.

  13. Academy teachers have a common planning period to interchange student and educational information.

California Partnership Academy Expenditure Guidelines


All grant and matching funds are supplemental and may not supplant what is normally and legally provided by the school and district. Academy grant funds MUST only be spent on Academy-only items and activities. The California Partnership Academies (CPA) funded through general funds will have a decrease in funding, based on the budget act, but are not subject to categorical flexibility. Academies funded through SB70 and AB519 are not currently subject to funding reductions but may be subject to reductions based on subsequent legislative and fiscal actions.

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