October 25, 2011
Partnership Academies Linked to Graduation, College Readiness
Torlakson notes findings 'confirm what I saw in my own classroom'
SACRAMENTO—Students enrolled in California Partnership Academies are significantly more likely to graduate from high school and complete courses required to attend University of California or California State University once they do, according to a report released Tuesday by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson.
A Profile of the California Partnership Academies 2009-2010, a review of test scores, attendance, and graduation rates by the Career Academy Support Network at the University of California, Berkeley shows that 95 percent of seniors attending California Partnership Academies (CPAs) go on to graduate, compared with 85 percent of students statewide.
The study also found that 57 percent of CPA graduates fulfilled the courses required for admission to UC or CSU systems, compared to 36 percent of graduates statewide.
"Today's results confirm what I saw in my own classroom: students who can see a connection between what they're learning and their goals for the future perform better," Torlakson said. "This simple but powerful link between learning and the world of work is helping partnership academies build a track record of success."
CPAs are small learning communities within larger high schools. Students follow a multi-year program of study in an industry-themed pathway that combines rigorous academics with demanding career technical education, and they engage directly with the world of adult work. California has 500 CPAs in operation, serving approximately 3 percent of students in grades ten through twelve.
Funded jointly by the California Department of Education and the James Irvine Foundation, the report shows that even though 50 percent of CPA students enter the program as "at-risk students," they perform better than students at other California high schools. A 2006 report on CPAs showed similar results, so this new report creates longitudinal evidence of superior results for CPA students.
The report also found that African American and Hispanic seniors graduated at significantly higher rates from CPAs than from non-CPAs. The difference was 16 percent higher for African-Americans and 14 percent higher for Hispanics.
In addition, the report found that 88 percent of CPA students plan to attend a two- or four- year college upon graduation. Many CPAs are also part of the rapidly growing field of Linked Learning, an approach that provides students with strong academics connected to real world experience.
"This report shows that students succeed in high school when rigorous academics are linked with relevant career technical education and engagement with the world of adult work," said Christopher Cabaldon, Executive Director of the Linked Learning Alliance. "By highlighting the transformative possibilities of CPAs in this report, the Linked Learning Alliance hopes to build on the existing network of CPAs and give all of California's young people the opportunity for success in high school, college, and careers. We applaud Superintendent Torlakson for including the call to create strong Linked Learning pathways to college and careers in his recently released Blueprint for Great Schools."
With more than 200 CPAs set to lose funding at the close of the school year, supporters of the programs hope the successes outlined in this study help protect and expand CPAs, Linked Learning programs, and similar college-and-career pathways in California. Through the Linked Learning District Initiative, nine California school districts are already transforming their high schools through the Linked Learning approach.
The Blueprint for Great Schools report issued over the summer by Torlakson's Transition Advisory recommended that the state create strong linked learning pathways to college and careers by investing in innovative high school models that engage students in academic and applied learning.
"These results are encouraging, and provide one more reason to address the financial emergency facing our schools by investing in education again," Torlakson said. "We must continue to fund these successful programs and think boldly about how we build on these successes."
This "Profile of the California Partnership Academies 2009-2010" report was prepared for the California Department of Education by the Career Academy Support Network at the University of California, Berkeley. The report may be found at Profile of California Partnership Academies 2009-2010 [http://casn.berkeley.edu/downloads/CPA_Report_2009-10.pdf] (PDF; ).