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Mt. Whitney High School Earns Linked Learning Gold Certification

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Mt. Whitney High School Earns Linked Learning Gold Certification
Carolyn Gutierrez

Leaders from Visalia Unified and the Linked Learning Alliance joined at the annual Linked Learning Conference in Los Angeles to congratulate VUSD’s first Linked Learning Gold certification. The Mt. Whitney High School Academy of Health Sciences pathway is among the first in the nation to achieve this distinction.

VISALIA, CA – Leaders from Visalia Unified and the Linked Learning Alliance joined at the annual Linked Learning Conference in Los Angeles to congratulate VUSD’s first Linked Learning Gold certification. The Mt. Whitney High School Academy of Health Sciences pathway is among the first in the nation to achieve this distinction.
 
Linked Learning pathways integrate rigorous academics with technical coursework that is relevant to the needs of local employers, offer students work-based learning experiences aligned with their classes, and provide support services to help students graduate ready for entry into college and career. Gold certification is based on evidence that a pathway successfully integrates these core components of the Linked Learning approach. It is the Linked Learning field’s highest standard for college and career Preparation.
 
“We are so proud of the Academy of Health Sciences for achieving the highest level of certification,” said Superintendent Kirk Shrum. “We work in collaboration with several business and community partners to integrate academic preparation with rigorous real-world training to ensure students are ready for college and career.”

Certification is based on a series of standards identified by leaders in the Linked Learning field as important for improving student outcomes and preparing all students for college and career. 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.

 
“Our board’s vision is, “Every student empowered to achieve future success,” added VUSD Board President Jacqueline Gaebe. “Our pathways help prepare students to be college and career ready. In doing so, we ensure their future success and the success of our community.”
 
There are currently 27 Gold Linked Learning pathways in California and hundreds of Silver certified pathways striving for Gold. Visalia Unified offers nine (9) pathways and will be adding an education pathway in the fall. Along with the Gold certified pathway, Visalia Unified also boasts two Silver certified pathways.
 
Current pathways offered are:
  • Architecture, Construction, and Engineering (ACE) - Silver Certified
  • Business Finance - Silver Certified
  • Computer Science
  • First Responders
  • Health Sciences - Gold Certified
  • Law & Justice
  • Media Arts Sports
  • Therapy, Rehabilitation, Orthopedics, and Neuromuscular Gains (STRONG)
  • Fall of 2024 - Academy of Education
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 9th 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. Today, Linked Learning is working in more than 100 California school districts, with 550 pathways operating in 225 high schools. The approach is also taking hold in 19 other states, including Michigan, Massachusetts, Texas, Oregon, Wisconsin, and North Carolina.
 
“Visalia Unified is a true pioneer in ensuring all students are ready for both college and career,” said Anne B. Stanton, President of the Linked Learning Alliance. “The magic of Linked Learning is what we call the power of plus. When we combine college and career preparation, we put every student in position to successfully pursue a full range of postsecondary options. By the time a pathway gets to Gold, you can see how Linked Learning ignites students’ passions. Students work harder and dream bigger because their education is relevant to their communities and lifelong aspirations.”
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  • MtWhitney
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