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Student-Centered Schools: Closing the Opportunity Gap

Project Dates: 
January 2012-June 2014
Diane Friedlaender
Contact Email: 
Project Funders: 
Nellie Mae Education Foundation

Student-Centered Schools Study

The Student-Centered Schools Study, funded by the Nellie Mae Foundation, looks closely at four California high schools that use either the Linked Learning or Envision Schools model to achieve positive outcomes for all their students. These schools all serve predominately low-income students and students of color. These signature models of student-centered learning can inform efforts to address the national opportunity gap through student-centered practices.

Linked Learning began as a state-wide district initiative funded by the James Irvine Foundation to support implementation in nine districts across the state. The program has expanded through state funding since 2011 to include nearly 70 additional local educational agencies. Linked Learning integrates rigorous academics with career-based learning and real-world workplace experiences.

Envision Schools is a small charter network focusing intently on creating personalized learning environments in which educators also create project-based assignments that foster development of 21st century skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, and collaboration.

Both of these models show clear evidence of engaging and developing high levels of proficiency for students of color, English learners, and low-income students at levels that far exceed traditional schools serving similar students. In addition, the schools in this study provide the types of learning experiences that prepare students for college and meaningful careers as well as graduating students of color, English learners, and low-income students at rates that exceed similar students in their districts and California.


Read the two-page case study series summary

Individual Case Studies:

City Arts and Technology High School

Dozier-Libbey Medical High School

Impact Academy of Arts and Technology High School

Life Academy of Health and Biosciences

Research Brief

Policy Brief

Cross-Case Analysis

Web-Based Educator's Tool