Pursuing Rigor, Relevance, and Equity: Student Pathways in San Bernardino

Workplace Learning

Work-Based Learning Subcommittee. (2012). Work-based learning in linked learning: Definitions, outcomes, and quality criteria. Available at : http://connectedntl.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/wbl-definitions-outcomes-criteria_pg_120512_v2.pdf

This white paper advocates for greater clarity and a broader definition of what “work-based learning” can look like in K-12 education. Currently, many educators consider the phrase to be quite literal, meaning that work-based learning can only take place outside of a traditional classroom in a workplace environment. However, this limited definition fails to recognize that employment or internship opportunities are hard for some schools to find. Moreover, a narrow conception of work-based learning does little to ensure that experiences outside the classroom address rigorous academics and content. The authors argue that work-based learning can and should take multiple forms, such as developing knowledge of careers and exploring different career options, and that these learning opportunities do not have to wait for students to be older and able to be in a work environment. The authors present a work-based learning definition with four components—career awareness, career exploration, career preparation, and career training—and offer assessment strategies, examples of coordination with organizations outside of school, and suggestions for what learning standards and outcomes educators should expect to see.

Engaging Employers

McLaughlin, M., Lundy-Wagner, V., & Groves, B. (n.d.). Introduction. In Two years into CCPT: Many challenges & great promise: California Career Pathways Trust implementation research report (pp. 5–6). Available at https://jfforg-prod-prime.s3.amazonaws.com/media/documents/CCPTImplementationReport_03717_0.pdf

McLaughlin, M., Lundy-Wagner, V., & Groves, B. (n.d.). Employers. In Two years into CCPT: Many Challenges & Great Promise: California Career Pathways Trust implementation research report (pp. 59–66). Available at https://jfforg-prod-prime.s3.amazonaws.com/media/documents/CCPTImplementationReport_03717_0.pdf

The California Career Pathways Trust was established by the state legislature in 2014 to fund pathways designed to lead students into careers aligned with regional workforce needs. This excerpt, from a report examining the experiences of Cohort 1 consortia over the first two years of the grant, focuses on the challenges of engaging employers. Career pathways are a new model for many employers, and pose logistical challenges such as liability concerns, constraints on student schedules, difficulties with matching pathways with available positions, and a lack of incentives to get involved at this early stage of the process. Successful consortia have engaged in proactive outreach to employers that frames partnership in terms of a long-term vision rather than a short-term transaction, offers capacity building and other technical assistance, and provides opportunities to interact with the students.

Commonwealth Corporation. (2013). Strategic employer engagement: Building dynamic relationships with employers in teen and young adult employment programs. A workforce development practitioner’s guide (pp. 35–43). Available at http://commcorp.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/resources_2013-04-strategic-employer-engagement-teen-employment-programs.pdf

This guide provides tools for workforce development professionals to foster mutually beneficial relationships between teens and employers in young adult employment programs. The authors suggest offering tiers of involvement for potential employers in order to give them options for engagement that are appropriate to their level of interest while offering advantages for their participation. At the most involved tier, they propose that employers provide unsubsidized employment wherein teens or young adults are on the company payroll. For the next tier, they propose subsidized employment wherein teens are employed but wages are paid through an outside funding source. At the next level of engagement, the authors suggest that employers may serve as advisors to workforce development professionals by joining an advisory board, helping to make connections in their network, or providing feedback on others’ projects. At the lowest tier of involvement, the authors suggest that employers may get involved in career awareness by hosting teens for company tours, holding mock interviews, or speaking on a panel.