Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The LIAS Principles Impact Both Students and Staff Alike

By Guest Blogger, Frank Escobar


Frank Escobar,
Manager of After School Programs
Visalia USD
Running after school programs is no easy task.  Ask anyone in the field and they’ll show you there battle wounds. However, insert 11-14 year olds and the difficult meter goes through the roof.  Sometimes its just better to not know what you don’t know. Perhaps that’s why I’m still here.  Leaning a bit but still standing.  

In the early years it was the kids, the parents, the politics. I was new to the field and trying to identify the secret sauce for recruiting and retaining enough students to keep the grant. At the same time, keeping the ratio low enough to prevent our college-age staff from getting completely run over by the middle school mack truck. Not sure we ever completely figured it out but we’ve certainly made improvements.  

Great advice from experienced veterans, thoughtful tools from the field, some amazing trainings from some amazing trainers and even a few out-of-town tours.  And as we got better on attendance we began to focus on impact.  One of the tools that helped us in that area was, at the time, the newly released Learning in After School and Summer Principles.  

The principles gave us tangible targets to shoot towards. They were clear, relatable, and reasonably identifiable in everyday program. As we improved in our understanding of these principles, we naturally improved in the facilitating of these principles.  We saw active learning in our programs, increased student collaboration, learning that was thoughtful and meaningful, mastery-building and horizons being expanded. It was enlightening, exciting and honestly, still is.  

As we became better versed in offering these types of experiences and outcomes in our program, I began to notice something interesting.  I noticed that not only were our students benefitting from the affect of these important principles but so were our college-age workers. You see, unintentionally, while we were building the capacities of our staff members to implement the principles in their programming with students, we were also implementing them with our staff. 

Our training and professional development was becoming more active, our instruction (and play) in the training room more meaningful. Our learning environments were becoming more collaborative and our training focuses narrowed in on building mastery skill-sets, particularly around behavior management (if you know what I mean). And at the end of the day, we began to see our staff expanding their own horizons. They were learning about things they never had interest in. Seeing things they never bothered looking for. Doing things they never believed important. The LIAS Principles were becoming an integral part of our program cultural for both students and staff. 

PULSE Staff Holiday Dinner
Today, with the significant workforce challenges we face in after school and expanded learning, we attempt to do our best in sustaining the best and brightest. Unfortunately, that’s rarely possible. The best and brightest normally move on (and up) and take their talents to better paying playgrounds. However, it is in most cases that what contributed to their best and bright was what they learned and practiced right here in the expanded learning field. With so many tangible, transferrable skill-sets acquired in this work many of our best and brightest are shining even brighter right now in their warm and cozy classrooms. Particularly those who were fortunate enough to work in programs that asked them to integrate those 5 LIAS Principles. It’s called the bi-product affect. A secondary or incidental result, often unforeseen or unintended.  

Although, I find it pretty hard to believe that the engineer behind these principles would do anything unintended. All to say, I sincerely believe that the introduction, acceptance, and application of the LIAS Principles have meant more to our field than what might have been expected. These principles, while aimed at our young ones, have also impacted our other young ones teaching our young ones. That they say, is a double-whammy. Or, maybe in this case, a double-Sammy!

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Frank is currently the Manager of After School Programs at Visalia Unified School District in Visalia, CA as well as speaker, trainer and consultant for the after school and youth development fields. A popular speaker and trainer at school assemblies, youth and after school conferences, Frank has spoken to thousands of middle and high school youth and trained hundreds of educators and youth program workers across the country.  

A former collegiate and professional football player, Frank realized his passion for working with youth during his high school years mentoring younger athletes. Knowing one day he'd be hanging up his football cleats for a more practical profession, Frank obtained his degree in education from Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, TN.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Afterschool Leaders Look to 2016

By Sam Piha
Sam Piha

We asked a number of afterschool leaders two questions:
  • In looking ahead to 2016, what do you see as the important emerging trends in expanded learning programs?
  • Looking ahead to 2016, what do you see as the most significant challenge facing the field of expanded learning?  

Below are their responses to our questions. 

EMERGING TRENDS IN EXPANDED LEARNING PROGRAMS

Lucy Friedman,
President of ExpandED Schools
Lucy Friedman: We see two important trends emerging in expanded learning time programs. One is striving for increased collaboration between teachers and after-school educators so that expanded learning time builds on lessons learned in core subjects and students can approach subjects from multiple learning modalities. The other trend is an increased focus on social-emotional learning. Community organizations and after-school educators have long been focused on these youth development principles. We are pleased that school leaders and education change-makers are also now giving greater attention to it. 

Alison Overseth,
Executive Director,
Partnership for After School
Education
Alison Overseth: 
Quality, quality, quality.  We cannot take our eye off the investment it takes to do this work well...and if we are not doing the work at a high quality level we will not achieve desired outcomes and will not be providing the opportunities all children deserve.
Increasingly sophisticated content areas (STEM, Global Learning, e.g.) require inquiry-based learning...more focus on how to prepare the adults in children's lives to do this well.

It's past time to break down the unnatural silos of cognitive and noncognitive learning.  Schools need to learn from youth developers and youth developers from schools -- optimally we will see increasing investment in joint professional development and professional exchanges.

Jodi Grant,
Executive Director
Afterschool Alliance


Jodi Grant: I think STEM and Physical Activity will continue to be important. I am also hopeful that there will be a growing focus on social and emotional learning/skills and professional development. I think giving the valuable youth and child development principles more importance in valuing and evaluating programs.



Jane Quinn,
Vice President,
Children's Aid Society



Jane Quinn: Important emerging trends:  More receptivity on the part of schools to social and emotional learning as a valid (and desired) goal of Expanded Learning Program; continued emphasis on, and funding for, STEM programs; increased emphasis on college prep and retention.



Bill Fennessy,
Director of Community
Engagement,
THINK Together



Bill Fennessy:  Career and Work Based Learning programs. It is important that we have different versions for Elementary School, Middle School, and High School.










MOST SIGNIFICANT CHALLENGE FACING THE FIELD OF EXPANDED LEARNING 

Lucy Friedman: One challenge facing the field of expanded learning is ensuring that people outside the field understand what is meant by the term. ‘After school’ was easily defined (though, often misperceived as simply child care.) But ‘expanded learning’ is not as ubiquitously understood. Practitioners of expanded learning time may have variations in their definition based on differences in models.

The challenge facing both the after-school and expanded learning movement is that too many educators, funders and policy makers seek a quick fix and judge the quality of a model by standardized test scores alone. But the reality is that success can come in many forms. In the desire to close the achievement gap, there's too much emphasis on test prep and not enough focus on the life-enriching activities that foster curiosity, instill confidence, and ultimately lead to a passion for learning. Research, and anyone who’s ever watched a kid grow up, tells us that these characteristics are critically important for a successful adulthood.

Alison Overseth: There is currently often a disconnect between broad policy initiatives and implementation into good practice. Practice needs to better inform policy, and policy must include the investment required to change, strengthen and sustain new or expanded programs. The best ideas in the world will work or fail based on an adult's (or community's) interaction with a child.

Jodi Grant: Funding is a constant issue. At best it is stagnant in most places, but budget cuts are rampant and costs continue to rise for programs – especially labor costs. We also need to keep educating.

Jane Quinn: Serious funding concerns, especially at the Federal level— how will the ESEA reauthorization impact the intent of the afterschool movement and the 21st Century CLC funding? 

Bill Fennessy: The rising cost of everything with 10 year old funding levels. More specifically, how will we address the rising cost of labor, given the changes in the minimum wage? 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Happy Holidays!


All of us at Temescal Associates and the Learning in Afterschool & Summer Project wish you a peaceful and restful holiday!


Friday, December 4, 2015

A New Framework for Youth Development

By Sam Piha

Sam Piha
The Wallace Foundation asked the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research (UCCSR) to conduct a study on the factors that influence young adult success. Foundations for Young Adult Success is not the first youth development framework, but it does offer an improved guide to factors influencing positive development. We believe that this study is well aligned with the California Quality Standards for Expanded Learning Programs and the LIAS principles

Jenny Nagaoka, lead author of this study, will share the report findings at the HKL V conference in Berkeley on December 10, 2015 at the David Brower Center. She will also be the featured speaker at the HKL Speaker’s Forum on December 11, 2015. 
Jenny Nagaoka

Her colleague, Camille Farrington, will share the study at the HKL V conference in Los Angeles on January 21, 2016 at the California Endowment. Below are some of our questions that Camille responded to. 

Q: There have been previous frameworks for youth development. What inspired you to develop this updated version? 

A: In 2013, the Wallace Foundation asked us to take a broader look at the range of factors that support college and career readiness. We proposed to broaden that even further to look at Young Adult Success across a variety of domains, including education, work, relationships, and civic engagement. The project gave us the opportunity to bring together our colleagues with expertise in early childhood (Stacy Ehrlich), adolescence and the transition to high school (Camille Farrington), young adulthood/transition to college (Jenny Nagaoka), and after-school/youth development (Ryan Heath). 
Dr. Camille Farrington

It also allowed us to expand on our 2012 report, Teaching Adolescents to Become Learners, which focused much more narrowly on course performance for students aged 10-20. In both projects, our goal was to translate some very complex research from across a wide range of disciplines to make it accessible, relevant, useful, and actionable for educators and youth practitioners (and parents) who work with children, adolescence, or young adults.


Q: What do you believe the chief takeaways are from the report? 

A: For me, the three big takeaways are: 
  • Development is multifaceted, and even if you're only interested in one domain (for example, cognitive domain and knowledge development), you will be much more successful in that domain if you recognize the interrelationship with all the other domains (social, emotional, behavioral, ethical, as well as the psychological tasks young people are engaged in) and intentionally address and leverage those other domains in your work. If you don't engage those other domains intentionally, they can end up working against you and undermining your efforts at knowledge development. I think this is a particularly salient message for teachers! 
  • No matter what age of children/youth you are working with, it is powerful to keep in mind a "north star" destination of a young adult with agency, integrated identity, and a set of competencies (our 3 "key factors"). How is the work you are doing today helping to move this young person toward that goal? 
  • Developmental experiences are powerful levels for moving toward this young adult goal. Over the past couple decades, we have swung from a focus on inputs to a focus on outcomes. Inputs are important, outcomes are important, but we also have to pay a lot more attention to the process whereby inputs become outcomes -- and that is the role of the young person's EXPERIENCE in a learning setting. What kinds of active and reflective experiences are young people having, and how does this shape their opportunities for development? In schools, this means expanding our focus beyond curriculum and instruction and looking at what kids are actually DOING in their classes.

Q: Unlike previous frameworks, your report offers a developmental picture for different age youth. What inspired this? 

A: The Wallace Foundation was particularly interested in understanding how important factors develop over time. We took the project as an opportunity to really dig into that question. It seemed important to acknowledge that each of the key factors and foundational components can look quite different at different stages of early development, and understanding those differences is crucial to better knowing how to interact with and support youth in varying developmental stages.


Q: This is an excellent educational tool. Do you have any plans on a follow up toolbox that will help programs translate the report into practice? 

A: We loved this project and the opportunity it provided for us to really go deeply and broadly into the empirical research and practice knowledge about youth development and learning. After 25 years of working in partnership with the Chicago Public Schools, one of our strengths as an organization is our ability to do effective "translational research" and create coherent frameworks that provide new insights and knowledge for practitioners. That said, we also recognize our limitations. While we would be very interested in acting in an advisory capacity on a toolbox project, we think that is work that is best carried out by practitioners. One of our Steering Committee members, a gentleman who was a principal and is now a district administrator in CPS, said that Consortium research tells practitioners "What" and "So what", but that the answer to the question "Now what?" is the responsibility of those working directly with young people. I think that same edict applies here!

Q: What are the implications of this work for those who work in community-based youth programs?

A: A fundamental role for adults is to create rich developmental experiences for young people and to pay attention to what kids "take away" from those experiences. Adults can create a variety of "action" experiences that provide opportunities for kids to encounter, tinker, practice, choose, and contribute. Adults can also provide critical "reflection" experiences, where kids have opportunities to describe, evaluate, connect, envision, and integrate their experiences. 

We shouldn't leave it to chance that kids make the most beneficial meaning out of the experiences they have, but neither should we tell them what meaning they ought to make. The research suggests that asking questions and letting young people talk about their thoughts and experiences may be one of the most important roles adults can play in fostering development. 

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Dr. Camille A. Farrington is Senior Research Associate at the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research. She is one of the authors of the recently released Wallace Report entitled, Foundations for Young Adult Success. Her work focuses on policy and practice in urban high school reform, particularly classroom instruction and assessment, academic rigor, academic failure, and the role of noncognitive factors in academic performance. Dr. Farrington is lead author of Teaching Adolescents to Become Learners: The Role of Noncognitive Factors in Shaping School Performance (2012, CCSR), author of Failing at School: Lessons for Redesigning Urban High Schools (2014, Teachers College Press), and Principal Investigator for the UChicago Becoming Effective Learners Survey Development Project.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Social-Emotional and Character Skills: Keeping it Simple

By Sam Piha and Ruth Obel-Jorgensen

There is a growing body of research that affirms that social-emotional skills and character development increase academic performance and are essential to success in work and career. Expanded learning programs are uniquely positioned to develop these skills. As a result there is a growing dialogue between expanded learning programs and the school day. 

By design, expanded learning programs are uniquely positioned to promote social-emotional and character development of young people. However, if afterschool and summer programs are to provide active and engaged learning opportunities and build skills through sequencing and mastery, they must be very intentional in their work. 
The problem with the acceptance of the importance of these skills is the large number of “lists” and frameworks that describe these skills. This often adds confusion and a sense of overwhelm. 

In California, a collaborative of intermediary organizations (ASAPconnect, California School-Age Consortium, Partnership for Children and Youth, and Temescal Associates/LIAS) came together to develop a simplified framework. With funding from the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, we convened a research advisory group. This group looked at the available literature and contributed to a concept paper to synthesize the research. The result was a concept paper entitled, Student Success Comes Full Circle: Leveraging Expanded Learning Opportunities

The paper identified the foundational social-emotional and character skills that high-quality expanded learning programs should foster. These skills include self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, interpersonal skills, self-efficacy and growth mindset. It represents a call to action to school district leaders and expanded learning professionals to forge and strengthen partnerships to build social-emotional and character skills of children and youth. 

As the Common Core standards focus the school day on promoting interpersonal and social skills, now is the time for expanded learning programs to intentionally build these skills and to increase their partnership with the school day. 

For a copy of this framework and concept paper, click here. For more information and resources, visit www.expandedlearning360-365.com

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Friday, November 20, 2015

Register Now: How Kids Learn V Conference

By Sam Piha


Sam Piha
Preparing youth for success in career and work is an important responsibility of the expanded learning movement. If we are to achieve economic equity, young people must have access to activities that prepare them. This means starting with activities for young children to build their "soft" skills and help make them aware of diverse career fields. It also means offering experiences for older youth that build their "soft" and "hard" skills and experiences in workplace settings. (See previous posts on Employability Skills and on the Work-Based Learning Continuum.)


This will be the focus of our upcoming How Kids Learn V Conference, in Berkeley on December 10, 2015 and Los Angeles on January 21, 2016. 

Hear from leading thinkers and researchers, and innovative afterschool practitioners. We will also feature a number of young people who will tell us how preparation experience in expanded learning programs affected their lives and how we can be more successful. 

Speakers will include: 
  • Pedro Noguera, Distinguished Professor of Education, UCLA (LA Only)
  • Jenny Nagaoka, Deputy Director, University of Chicago and lead author of the recently released Wallace Report entitled, Foundations for Young Adult Success (Berkeley Only)
  • Alvaro Cortes, Executive Director, Beyond the Bell/LAUSD (LA Only)
  • Alex Taghavian, Vice President, Linked Learning Alliance
  • Michael Funk, Director, After School Division at the California Department of Education 
  • Beth Kay, Linked Learning Manager, Foundation for California Community Colleges
In addition to the above speakers, we will host a bevy of workshops led by innovative practitioners who work with young people, K-12. Workshop topics include:
  • Serving Elementary School Youth
  • Serving Middle School Youth
  • Serving High School Youth
  • Partnering with Community Colleges
  • Youth Entrepreneurship and Social Enterprise
  • “Girl Power”: Serving the Needs of Girls and Young Women (Berkeley Only)
  • “Cyber Patriots”: Preparing Youth for Success (LA Only)
For more information, go to www.howkidslearn.org.

To register:

Friday, November 13, 2015

The Town Kitchen: Walking the Talk, Putting Great Food in a Box

By Sam Piha


Sam Piha
We are proud to use The Town Kitchen to cater our How Kids Learn V - Berkeley conference on December 10 and our HKL Speaker's Forum on December 11. The Town Kitchen is a social enterprise which is focused on training youth for work and career success. 

Their vision is to create community through local food; a community where low-income Oakland youth can shine; a community where they will introduce under-served youth to talented chefs & start-up entrepreneurs so they have the skills and network to pursue their future.

You can learn more about The Town Kitchen by visiting their website. Click on the photo below to view their video. 



The Town Kitchen was founded by Sabrina Mutukisna. Sabrina will also present The Town Kitchen story at the How Kids Learn V conference in Berkeley. Below, she responded to a number of our questions.


Sabrina Mutukisna,
Co-Founder and CEO
The Town Kitchen
Q: Can you say a little bit about the Town Kitchen? What is your mission and what is it that you offer for youth? 

A: The Town Kitchen is a community-driven food business that employs and empowers low-income youth. We deliver chef-crafted boxed lunch to Bay Area corporate clients. We also provide fair-wage jobs, entrepreneurial training, and access to college course credit for young people with barriers to employment. 

Q: In what way do you consider the Town Kitchen as a social enterprise? 

A: As a for-profit benefit corporation, we're both positioned for growth and committed to supporting young people. We measure our impact not only through our revenue but through the number of young people who have completed our training, who are actively employed, and are enrolled in post-secondary education.

Q: What do you think that youth value most about being involved in your organization? 

A: That's a great question. I think they value the community the most. They get to come to work and there are multiple people invested in their well-being. They get to be themselves and talk about what's going on in their lives. To be honest, I think we all need this at work but it's especially important for young people who are carrying so much on their shoulders.

I think our youth employees also value being an important part of the business. We're a small company, so they play a pivotal role in our growth. It's important we all produce a high-quality product and make customer service a priority.



Q: Do you believe that there is an equity problem in offering youth of color opportunities for workplace learning? If yes, do you think this is important? And why? 

A: Employing young people means they are less likely to be incarcerated and more likely to graduate from college. Currently, white youth are twice more likely to be employed than young people of color.  This is an issue in the immediate -- oftentimes youth of color need jobs to support their families. It's also a longterm issue. Access to workplace learning helps young people build transferable skills, expand professional networks and, most importantly, become confident in their abilities. 

Workplace learning is also a place where we expose youth to different careers across the educational spectrum. I think this is a huge issue when we think of systemic privilege. People do what they know. If youth of color never meet another person of color with an advanced degree, chances are, they aren't going to pursue it. 

Q: Do you encourage your youth to think of the food preparation industry as a career choice? Or do you encourage them to think in another way? 

A: Yes and no. We recognize that there are systemic inequities within the food system too. Oftentimes, folks of color are in the back of restaurants. As a minority-owned business, we hope to disrupt this hierarchy. We're inspired by our partners at Red Bay and Mamacitas Cafe who are championing change. And by the folks at People's Kitchen that actively work for food workers rights. Some of our young people are really passionate about becoming executive chefs and we certainly want to encourage them. Our job is to prepare them to be competitive and employable if and when they leave us.

The majority of our employees are still figuring out their futures. We don't want to rush them. We want to provide them with a great job while they're working towards their degree. While they're with us, they have conversations about race and privilege, explore entrepreneurship and receive formal and informal mentorship.  Having them employed while in school is a win for us too. The food industry is notorious for high turnover. Retaining employees who are equally passionate about our mission, allows us to build a great company.



Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Preparing Youth for Work and Career Success: A Research Perspective

By Sam Piha


Sam Piha
We hear from researchers and the business community that preparing youth for work and career success is an essential responsibility of communities, educators, and youth program leaders. Young people should be prepared by the time they leave high school. Expanded learning programs are perfectly situated to contribute to this preparation. This is the theme of our upcoming How Kids Learn conference. 

Regie Stites is Senior Researcher at SRI International who has been evaluating Linked Learning strategies in 9 California school districts. The Linked Learning Alliance is a statewide coalition of education, industry, and community organizations dedicated to improving California’s high schools and preparing students for success in college, career, and life.

Dr. Stites will be one of our featured speakers at the upcoming How Kids Learn V conferences in Berkeley and Los Angeles. He agreed to answer a few of our questions:

Q: Can you highlight some of the evidence we have for positive 
Dr. Regie Stites,
SRI International
outcomes from work-based learning? 


A: Our quantitative analyses have focused on the impacts of the overall Linked Learning experience on student outcomes. The most recent findings from the evaluation indicate that, on average, students in Linked Learning pathways completed more high school credits, were less likely to drop out, were more likely to graduate, had higher GPAs, and were more likely to be classified as ready for college when compared with similar students in traditional high school programs.

We see the most direct evidence of positive student outcomes related to work-based learning in our student survey and focus group data. Students who had participated in work-based learning reported that it gave them opportunities to gain teamwork experience, to practice hands-on skills working with tools, and to apply knowledge and skills gained in the classroom. In focus groups, Linked Learning pathway students frequently described the ways that work-based learning experiences helped them develop awareness of the norms and expectations for behavior in the workplace, helped them develop work-related interpersonal and communication skills, and gave them motivation and clarity in planning further education and choosing a career path. 

Q: Why is preparing youth for work and career success important for young people from low-income neighborhoods? Is there an issue of equity that we should seek to address? 

A: Equity in educational outcomes and in access to college and career are central goals of the Linked Learning work. One of the most fundamental premises of Linked Learning is that all students should be prepared for college and careers. The 9 school districts included in the California Linked Learning District Initiative were chosen for initiative, in part, because they serve predominantly low-income students and communities. In the current economy, a postsecondary credential is the key to employability. But simply getting more low-income students to graduate from high school and enroll in college is not enough. For example, we know that 70% of low-income students who start at a two-year college do not complete a credential within 5 years.

Q: What are some of the challenges and opportunities in this work?

A: The biggest challenge is breaking down the silos that separate educators from each other and from employers. To create seamless transitions from school to college and to employment we need seamless systems. To prepare young people for work and career success we need educators who understand work and employers who understand education. With the Career Pathway Trust Grants and related efforts, California is moving in the direction of developing regional partnerships that bridge gaps between K-12, postsecondary, workforce development, and employment systems. These efforts are just getting off the ground but the potential for fostering greater collaboration across sectors to improve and expand access to a range of high-quality work-based learning opportunities is encouraging.   

Q: Do you think that the out-of-school setting is a good place to prepare youth for success in work and career?

A: The simple answer is yes, the out-of-school setting is essential for preparing youth for work and career success. This is so because out-of-school programs can play a key role in supporting the types of integrated learning activities that connect school learning to real-world applications of knowledge and skills. For many young people, especially young people from low-income neighborhoods, one of the most important keys to educational engagement, persistence, and success is relevance. 

Simple common sense (and research) supports the notion that young people who can clearly see the relevance of what they are learning to their own lives and futures are more likely to persist and be successful in education and, as a result, are more likely to be ready for career success.

The best methods for connecting school learning to real-world applications of knowledge and skills are well known. These methods include project-based learning, experiential learning, service learning, and a range of work-based learning activities. Some of these integrated learning activities, such as project-based learning and some forms of work-based learning may not require an out-of-school setting, but they are stronger when they do.  



Q: Can you offer any advice on what out-of-school programs could do?

A: To give more low-income youth opportunities to participate in extended, high-quality integrated learning activities, out-of-school programs should look for opportunities to work together with classroom teachers and with employers and with community organizations to co-design and jointly deliver such learning activities. Youth will be more motivated and experience deeper learning when they can connect classroom learning with applied learning in an out-of-school setting.

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Regie Stites, Ph.D., will share his research on the impact of Linked Learning projects with schools and youth at the How Kids Learn V Conference. He has two decades of experience in the design and management of large-scale educational research and evaluation in the areas of literacy education, integrated academic and career-technical education, college and career readiness, and workforce development. Major projects include the Evaluation of the California Community College Linked Learning Initiative, the Evaluation of the Linked Learning Health Career Pathways Project in Oakland Unified School District (OUSD), and the Equipped for the Future National Work Readiness Credential Assessment Development and Validation. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Welcome to Jeff Davis, New Executive Director of the California AfterSchool Network!

By Sam Piha

Sam Piha
We are very happy to congratulate Jeff Davis as the new Executive Director of the California AfterSchool Network (CAN). In our work with Jeff, he has shown himself to be a tireless collaborator who exhibits the openness, transparency, and integrity that the CAN Executive Director must exhibit. He has thorough knowledge of the field, is a strong advocate for the needs of practitioners, and is unafraid to leverage the knowledge of other field leaders. He brings a combination of both passion and attention to detail. 

The announcement by the Network says it best:

Jeff Davis,
Executive Director, CAN
“Jeff has worked with CAN since its inception in 2006, first as Program Coordinator, then as Program Director and most recently as Interim Executive Director. 

As a seasoned expanded learning stakeholder and the author of the State of the State of Expanded Learning in California, Jeff brings a great understanding for the expanded learning landscape including important initiatives and key partners. Jeff’s accomplishments in the field have been well received through his work with STEM and The Power of Discovery, CDE’s statewide Strategic Implementation Teams, the development of Quality Standards for Expanded Learning in California, as well as supporting a number of CAN’s field committees. Jeff’s most recent work has centered around supporting CAN’s transition of fiscal sponsors and procuring of funds to support CAN’s work.

We are fortunate to have such a well-respected, passionate and committed individual in Jeff Davis as CAN’s newest Executive Director. CAN’s Leadership Team is excited to welcome Jeff aboard as Executive Director and looking forward to continuing CAN’s impactful work in the Expanded Learning field.”




Monday, October 19, 2015

Work-Based Learning Continuum: Can You Locate Your Program?


By Sam Piha


Sam Piha
We know that, as adults, it is our job to help prepare young people for success in adulthood. This is becoming obvious to educators and those who provide expanded learning programs for youth as we see an increase in opportunities to explore careers and gather work-based skills. 

The Linked Learning Alliance has created a continuum of work-based learning activities. This continuum offers educators and youth program leaders  shared language and activity definitions as a means to locate oneself on this developmental continuum. You can review a paper on this continuum authored by the Linked Learning Alliance here. (The Linked Learning Alliance is a statewide coalition of education, industry, and community organizations dedicated to improving California’s high schools and preparing students for success in college, career, and life.)


Above: Alex Taghavian
Below: Regie Stites
Alex Taghavian, Vice President of the Linked Learning Alliance, will speak at our upcoming How Kids Learn V conference. The focus of this conference is Preparing Youth for Work and Career Success. Alex will share the work-based learning continuum and researcher, Regie Stites from Center for Education Policy at SRI International, will focus on some of the challenges and opportunities for implementation of work-based learning systems based on his findings from the Linked Learning District Initiative evaluation. He will also highlight some of the evidence he has for positive outcomes from work-based learning.

Below we asked Hilary McLean, Executive Vice President of the Linked Learning Alliance, more about the Linked Learning work-based continuum. 

Q: Can you briefly say how and why this continuum was developed? 


Hilary McLean,
Executive Vice President
Linked Learning
Alliance
A: The Linked Learning Work-Based Learning continuum was developed by leaders in the Linked Learning field who have expertise in education and workforce development. It was designed to be a resource to help build understanding about the range of work-based learning opportunities that a student could and should experience as they move through their Linked Learning experience. With that greater understanding, we hoped that this resource would help schools and employer partners design coherent sequenced opportunities for students to interact with employers, apply what they are learning in the classroom in real-world contexts, and gain professional skills that are needed in college and in the workforce. 

Q: This continuum uses the term “work-based”. People often think about "work-based” learning activities that only happen within a work setting and with older youth and young adults. Can you comment on this perception?  

A: Work-based learning can actually start much earlier, by introducing children in primary grades or even preschool to careers and professionals in a range of occupations.  With Linked Learning, the career awareness phase of the continuum typically starts in the students’ freshman year of high school. Some districts that have embraced Linked Learning as a system-wide school improvement strategy start this phase in middle school. 


Q: Who is the intended audience for this continuum and how do you hope it will be used?  

A: We hope that the Linked Learning Work-Based Learning Continuum is used by Linked Learning educators, workforce development boards, intermediaries such as Chambers of Commerce or other organizations that are serving as a connection point between schools and the employer community, coordinators for mayors’ summer jobs initiatives, and anyone who is interested in economic development and improving the workforce pipeline.

Q: Do you believe that it is useful and relevant for youth programs that happen in the out-of-school hours? 

A: Yes we think that this is a huge area of opportunity that has not yet been fully tapped. 

Q: What benefits do you believe this continuum provides to program
Photo Credit: Techbridge Girls
designers and youth workers?  


A: The Linked Learning Work-Based Learning Continuum can provide guidance on how to sequence opportunities for youth so that they are prepared for each step in the process, and can succeed in both learning in and contributing to real-world professional workplaces. 


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