As a hub for the Linked Learning movement, the Alliance offers research, stories, and tools that help people understand the impact of Linked Learning and implement this approach at high levels of quality.
This case study describes how Porterville Unified School District (PUSD), a rural school district in California’s Central Valley, began to fulfill its vision to transform high school and career education through the implementation of Linked Learning. The case explains how Porterville’s district leadership team made Linked Learning the centerpiece of its district-wide reform effort and describes the key strategies the leadership team developed in collaboration with stakeholders to implement a system of pathways across five high schools.
Traditionally, challenges such as how to sustain district reform, how to build a leadership pipeline, how to create an integrated project, or how to best intervene with struggling students would be resolved with a team of “experts” developing a solution in isolation of the stakeholders involved. By contrast, design thinking centers on the knowledge and experiences of those on the front lines—in the same spirit as student-centered learning, differentiation, and other user-centered approaches in education.
Rice suggests that to best impact systemic challenges, design thinking should be practiced as part of an aligned set of focused priorities across schools and districts. To nurture a culture of innovation, district leadership should thoughtfully integrate design thinking into already existing appropriate structures including strategic planning forums, curriculum development sessions, and teacher and principal leadership development.