With most schools in California reopening virtually this fall, a new analysis from the Alliance for Excellent Education and the Linked Learning Alliance shows the very students who could benefit the most from the college-and career-focused approach of Linked Learning are the least likely to have the internet and devices needed to access it from home.
Independent research shows that the Linked Learning approach makes a difference for high school students, leading to decreased dropout rates, higher graduation rates, and more credits earned for students in certified pathways. Importantly, this research demonstrates that Linked Learning has especially positive effects for students with low prior achievement and for Black and Latinx students.
Across the state, 1.8 million children live in homes without high-speed internet, and nearly 690,000 have no access to devices. Children of color are much more likely to be cut off from virtual learning: Nearly one-quarter of Black families in California and almost one-third each of California’s Latino and American Indian/Alaska Native families do not have high-speed internet access at home. One in 10 each of Black, Latino, and American Indian/Alaska Native families have no computer at home.
While most of the burden for equipping students with the devices and internet access for ongoing online learning has fallen to local schools, districts, and states, the report calls on Congress to provide $6.8 billion in critical funding for internet and computer access for all students across the country.
“Every student in California—and across the country—deserves full access to virtual learning from home. Asking students who have already been through so much to fill out paper packets or join their classmates from fast food restaurant parking lots is neither acceptable nor sustainable,” said All4Ed president and CEO Deborah Delisle. “The federal government has an historic opportunity to ensure millions of students get what they need to be successful this fall and beyond. Continuing to allow millions of students—particularly those who have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic—to be ‘logged off’ from learning will set back an entire generation. Our country’s future depends on our willingness to stand up for our kids—every one of them. Let them know we care about them and their future by providing the support and resources they desperately need now.”
“Amid school closings educators continue to work tirelessly to connect students virtually, but far more support and resources are needed at this singular moment of time,” said Anne Stanton, president and CEO of the Linked Learning Alliance. “By ensuring young people remain closely connected to their teachers, mentors, and the world around them we can keep them on the path to postsecondary success. California’s young people have already lost so much. The real tragedy would be not to do everything possible to prevent them from losing their momentum because the link to their future is our future.”
Linked Learning transforms student learning experiences by integrating college and career preparation with rigorous academic coursework, sequenced career and technical education, work-based learning experiences, and comprehensive support services. The approach has been so successful in improving student experiences and outcomes that Linked Learning is working in more than 100 California school districts today, with more than 650 pathways. The approach also is being adopted in 20 other states.
The new analysis highlights Linked Learning programs in Antelope Valley Unified School District, which is about 70 miles outside of Los Angeles, and in Pasadena.
In a recent survey of 1,400 juniors and seniors across seven key Linked Learning districts in California, students shared thoughtful and honest reflections on how the pandemic has impacted their high school experiences and their postsecondary plans. In the survey, 56% of juniors and 58% of seniors said that keeping up with schoolwork at home is challenging, particularly if they do not have the appropriate tools and resources. Moreover, students who were connected in the spring continued to find value in the core components of Linked Learning and the connections it helped them to maintain despite school closures. The majority of both juniors and seniors noted that the virtual relationships they maintained with their teachers, counselors, industry partners, and peers, as well as their experiences with portfolio defenses, working with advisors, and clarifying college and career goals have been valuable during virtual educational experiences.
Nationally, 16.9 million children lack the high-speed home internet service necessary to support remote learning, known as the “homework gap.” That data includes 1 in 3 Black, Latino and American Indian/Alaska Native students, according to a recent analysis from All4Ed, the National Indian Education Association, the National Urban League and UnidosUS. And 7.3 million children in 3.6 million households have no access to a laptop, desktop or tablet computer. The report analyzes data from the 2018 American Community Survey on households with children age 17 or younger.
For more on the homework gap, including an interactive map with state-by-state data, go to all4ed.org/homeworkgap.
The Alliance for Excellent Education (All4Ed) is a Washington, DC–based national policy, practice, and advocacy organization dedicated to ensuring that all students, particularly those underperforming and those historically underserved, graduate from high school ready for success in college, work, and citizenship. All4ed.org
The Linked Learning Alliance is the engine that drives a movement to help every young person determine their own future through a proven approach to education called Linked Learning. Linked Learning integrates rigorous academics with real-world learning and strong support services to prepare students for success in college, career, and life. The Alliance helps create public will for equity and excellence in education, elevate the practice of Linked Learning across America, and advance policies that serve and support all youth. LinkedLearning.org
The American Consortium for Equity in Education, publisher of the "Equity & Access" journal, celebrates and connects the educators, associations, community partners and industry leaders who are working to solve problems and create a more equitable environment for historically underserved pre K-12 students throughout the United States.