Linked learning academies are expanding in the troubled Oakland school district, reports Kathryn Baron on EdSource. Forty-two percent of students in grades 10, 11 and 12 are in programs that link schoolwork with internships and job shadowing. Gary Yee, acting superintendent, wants to raise that to 80 percent.
At Life Academy of Health and Bioscience, students intern in hospitals, medical offices, retirement homes and elementary school programs for at-risk children.
Linked learning students have more access to college-prep courses required by California universities, concluded Education Trust-West after a two-year study at four high schools. In addition, linked learning students were more likely to graduate than similar students at high schools that don’t offer the program. African American, Latino and low-income students in linked learning programs had graduation rates 9 to 29 percentage points higher than the statewide average.
Oakland Unified’s analysis found fewer absences, lower suspension rates and higher test scores for students in linked learning academies.
The district, the city of Oakland and Peralta Community College District plan to collaborate on creating pathways from high school to college to career.
Most Oakland Unified graduates enroll in community college. However, high school and community college systems aren’t aligned, said Laurie Scolari, who oversees the California Community College Linked Learning Initiative at Career Ladders Project, a nonprofit in Oakland.
The new collaboration will make it possible to follow high school graduates who enroll in community college, writes Baron. “That will give a clear picture of whether high schools are doing a good job of preparing students for college-level work and where the gaps are between academy and community college programs.”
Most employers say college graduates aren’t prepared for work, reports Bridge That Gap: Analyzing the Student Skill Index, a Chegg survey. Half of college students said they felt very or completely prepared for work in their field of study. Thirty-nine percent of employers said recent graduates they’d interviewed were well-prepared.
Students overvalue their mastery of “business basics,” according to employers, notes Inside Higher Ed.
Those include “creating a budget or financial goal” and “writing to communicate ideas or explain information clearly” (each show a 22 percentage-point gap), and “organization” (25 percentage points). In the widest gap, at 27 percentage points, 77 percent of students but only half of hiring managers reported preparation for “prioritizing work.”
Students fared the best at “making a decision without having all the facts.” About 47 percent of students said they were prepared to do that, and 37 percent of hiring managers said the same of recent graduates.
More than 90 percent of hiring managers are looking for graduates who’ve shown initiative and leadership. They also look for extracurriculars, internships and work related to applicants’ field of study. Only a third of college graduates have spent time gaining experience in their field.
Chegg also looked at “Office Street Smarts” by asking five questions:
1. Can graduates make a persuasive argument to convince others to adopt their ideas?
2. Can they write to encourage action or make a specific request?
3. Were they able to communicate with authority figures and clients?
4. Can they collaborate with people from diverse backgrounds?
5. Can they complete a project as part of a team?
Again, students “have an over-inflated sense” of their communications and collaboration skills.
STEM graduates were “slightly better prepared” to explain information and solve problems through experimentation, employers said.
More and more students are attending two-year colleges instead of four-year schools. Within five years, minorities will make up more than half of the country’s under-18 population. And, by 2020, two thirds of all jobs will require education beyond high school—up from roughly a quarter 40 years ago.
The first two years of a four-year college experience could rely more heavily on online instruction, coupled with group work in class with coaching by faculty members, internships or service-learning experiences.
“What we can do is try to do a much better job of using these new technological tools that we have … to have a combination of human touch and a technological learning environment that is again much better than what people are getting,” said Kevin Carey, director of the Education Policy Program at the New America Foundation.
There’s a misconception, Carey said, that campus instruction is personal and individualized, while online instruction is not. . . . ”Particularly in your first and second years, there’s nothing interpersonal about sitting in a lecture hall twice a week watching someone talk … whereas good online learning environments can be customized to you personally in a way that can actually rival or surpass what can happen in a traditional classroom.”
Colleges will need to find ways to measure achievement and competency, said Robert Shireman, who directs California Competes. “You can go into a gym and you can tell whether people are actually exercising. A lot of colleges you go in and you can’t tell” whether students are learning, he said.
More than 10 years ago, President Daniel Asquino asked faculty, staff, and community leaders to develop a plan to integrate service learning into courses and make civic involvement part of the college culture.
A newly endowed Center for Civic Learning and Community Engagement, funded by an anonymous donor, supports the work of faculty, students and community groups. The center houses internship, career placement and job readiness programs.
Service learning has improved retention and completion rates and helped students prepare for transfer and careers, Forhan writes.
California nursing graduates are having trouble finding their first job, reports the Sacramento Bee. As experienced nurses delay retirement and hospitals try to avoid training expenses, nursing graduates are working unpaid internships to break into the profession.
Barbara Elwell earned an associate degree in nursing in May from the College of Marin, but she’s still job hunting.
“We’ve gone through all these classes and this training, and yet, I’m a licensed RN in this country, and I can’t find a job.”
California doubled the number of nursing graduates, reports the Bee.
As recently as three years ago, hospitals were offering moving expenses, housing allowances and signing bonuses to recent graduates of nursing schools.
Veteran nurses who need no training are still in demand, but new nurses are volunteering or taking part-time jobs to gain experience.
In the next 10 years, baby boomers will retire, the state’s insured population will grow and nurses will be in short supply again, predicts Timothy Bates, a program analyst at the Center for the Health Professions at the University of California, San Francisco.
Today, America has only 45 million workers who have the training and skills to fill 97 million jobs that require some post-secondary education. . . . At the same time, the nation has more than 100 million candidates for only 61 million low-skill, low-wage positions.
The U.S. needs “high skill” and “middle skill” workers, they write. While 33 percent of jobs will require a bachelor’s degree by the end of this decade, another 30 percent will require a two-year degree or certificate.
Businesses and colleges need to create more “earn and learn” opportunities for students.
More than 80 percent of college leaders and 60 percent of college dropouts identified financial pressures such as needing to work as a major challenge to students completing their degrees. Compounding this challenge is that oftentimes the work students do outside the classroom to pay the bills has little relevance to the degrees for which they are studying, and so rather than enhancing their studies and increasing their motivation to finish their degree, it often becomes a competing priority for their time.
If employers want colleges to produce skilled workers, they’ll have to provide internships, apprenticeships or cooperative learning experiences.
Across the Great Divide, a new report by Civic Enterprises and Corporate Voices for Working Families calls for more attention to the value of two-year degrees and job-specific credentials.