Multiple Pathways in California: An Emerging Option for High School Reform
Note: This report, originally published in November 2009, describes a high school reform movement previously known as Multiple Pathways. Since early 2010, however, California proponents of this movement have adopted a new term to describe the approach: Linked Learning. A discussion of the reasons for this change is available on page 3 of the report.
High schools are the culmination of the K-12 education experience. But how can high schools keep their students motivated, prepare them well to pursue further academics or careers, and ensure that all students have equal access to a quality education?
One approach to meeting these goals challenges the very nature of the traditional high school curriculum. Currently known as "multiple pathways," this approach strives to make high school a more engaging and effective experience for students by integrating academics and career technical education, building partnerships between schools and communities, and providing academic and other support services.
This EdSource report describes California’s efforts to more broadly implement the multiple pathways approach, which is already being explored in earnest by several large school districts in California. The report also addresses critical questions about the potential of this reform effort.
Highlights in this report:
- The multiple pathways approach attempts to better engage and prepare high school students by integrating academic and career education.
- A number of pathway models—such as Partnership Academies—offer high school alternatives that have demonstrated some success.
- Several initiatives are exploring practices and policies that could bring pathway programs to more students and ensure their quality.
- The pathways option holds promise; but to bring it to scale, reformers must address implementation issues and differing views regarding educational goals for students.
EdSource’s work, including the development of this report, is supported in part by a general operating grant from The James Irvine Foundation.