At the Business & Tourism Academy in Los Angeles, 10th graders read To Kill a Mockingbird — and Dale Carnegie, writes Gail Robinson on the Educated Reporter blog. Eleventh graders read The Great Gatsby and Jonah Berger’s Contagious: Why Things Catch On.
Combining college-prep academics with an industry-themed career “pathway” is the key to California’s Linked Learning initiative, writes Robinson.
Linked Learning students are 3.7 percentage points more likely to graduate and just as likely to complete a college-prep sequence as students in traditional high school programs, according to a 2015 SRI study.
More than 90 percent of students at Business & Tourism Academy, part of the Miguel Contreras Learning Complex, come from lower-income Latino families.
Much of the school’s focus is on professionalism. Throughout their four years, students work on business projects and interact with outside professionals. They “dress for success” — wearing business attire — every Wednesday. Business people critique videos of mock job interviews with the students and provide other feedback. Many students have internships.
Along with a complement of traditional academic classes aligned with the Common Core State Standards, every year students take a course geared to the school’s theme, such as cultural geography in their freshman year and ecotourism as sophomores. Juniors study entrepreneurship, working on computers to plot a firm’s fixed and variable costs and develop risk analyses for companies. The final project is to create a business plan for a tour company. Seniors run a virtual company and participate in the Virtual Enterprises International competition.
The school’s 80 percent graduation rate is higher than the district’s 74 percent rate, reports Robinson.
Los Angeles Unified will have 44 Linked Learning schools by fall, including programs geared to health and medicine, engineering, design, manufacturing and media studies.