Student Experiences in Health Pathways. Findings from an Evaluation of Oakland Health Pathways

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Chen, W.-B., Park, C. J., Warner, M., McMurchy, M. & Fikes, A. (2019). Student Experiences in Health Pathways. Findings from an Evaluation of Oakland Health Pathways. Menlo Park, CA: SRI Education.


This brief presents findings from an evaluation of the Oakland Health Pathways Project (OHPP), a joint initiative of Oakland Unified School District (OUSD), Alameda Health System (AHS), and Alameda County Health Care Services Agency (ACHCSA). OUSD applies Linked Learning, an approach to college and career preparation that combines classroom learning with real-world work experiences, to its health pathways. Through the initiative, OUSD aimed to expand and enhance health pathways for students and worked with AHS and ACHCSA to improve work-based learning experiences. Based on interviews with key school and pathway personnel, as well as focus groups and surveys of participating students in their senior year, this brief describes the health pathway student experience and the perceived impact of participation on college and career readiness. The brief concludes with key takeaways for those creating curricula that integrate rigorous academics and career-themed coursework, as well as those designing work-based learning experiences. The key takeaways are as follows:

Connecting Classrooms to the Real World

  • Consider student interest when selecting pathways themes and course content
  • Integrate technical and academic content through projects
  • Embed dual enrollment courses connected to pathway themes

Providing Work-based Learning Experiences

  • Offer a range of work-based learning opportunities and intentionally target harder to reach students
  • Take time to understand the barriers students face to participating in internships and target supports to mitigate those barriers
  • Prepare students for work-based learning experiences and integrate them into the curriculum

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