Above, Congresswoman Maxine Waters and other policymakers visit address students and teachers at the STEM Academy of Hollywood.
L.A. Unified teachers, principals – everyone for that matter – holds high expectations for students. We expect them to learn, develop, thrive and graduate from high school with the academic knowledge and critical-thinking skills they need to be successful.
While test scores and graduation rates are on the rise, the District is working hard to close a stubborn achievement gap. It is achieving success through Linked Learning, a program that combines rigorous academics, high-quality technical education, work-based learning, and comprehensive support services to help students stay on track. Linked Learning also engages state and local business and industry as well as higher education in improving and making high school relevant for for traditionally under-served students in low-income Latino and African-American communities. The California Department of Education has committed about $2 billion to expand Linked Learning initiative statewide.
“It is exciting to walk into Linked Learning classrooms and see students engaged in projects that are relevant to real-world careers. You can see students learning and practicing such critical skills as effectively communicating, critically thinking and thoughtfully collaborating with their peers, faculty and professionals from the same career field they are studying, ” Christine Margiotta, vice president for community impact for the United Way of Greater Los Angeles.
Earlier this month, Congresswoman Maxine Waters joined with federal, state and local officials in visiting Linked Learning programs at the STEM Academy of Hollywood and Los Angeles High School of the Arts. The visit was organized by the Alliance for Excellent Education, a national policy and advocacy organization dedicated to transforming America’s high schools.
The policymakers interacted with current and students, teachers and administrators while exploring classroom and workshop spaces where students learned about aerodynamics and circuit design, and defended portfolios tied to the performing and technical theater arts.
At the STEM Academy of Hollywood, biomedical students presented their findings on the harmful effects of ultraviolet light on simulated human skin while engineering students compared wind, solar, hydrogen and biofuel energy sources.
At the STEM Academy of Hollywood – an innovative Science, Technology, Engineering and Medical Pilot – about 90 percent of the students are eligible for free and reduced price meals. On statewide assessments, students scored significantly higher in English Language Arts than students attending traditional high schools in L.A. Unified. Approximately 80 percent students graduated on time in 2015.
“Our students and staff are extremely proud of the innovation happening here at STEM,” said STEM Academy Principal Paul Hirsh. “Our adoption of the Linked Learning model has been truly transformative.”
Los Angeles High School of the Arts provides students with instruction in the performing and technical arts. Approximately 86 percent of the school’s students are eligible for free and reduced price lunch. Thee school also has a large percentage of English-learners, many of whom are recent immigrants with barriers to English, and of students with disabilities.
In visiting the classrooms at LAHSA, participants watched as students performed Shakespeare’s sonnets and presented their design work.
“Linked Learning has benefited the school by promoting more collaboration among teachers and students, fostering openness and innovation, contributing to an emphasis on feedback and revision of work by students, teachers, and professionals, use of rubrics and criteria to assess student work, and leading us to reform grading practices,” LAHSA Principal Susan Canjura said.