Schools use different and individualized approaches to providing students with rigorous and relevant learning opportunities. Each approach allows students to develop the skills and deeper learning competencies needed to succeed in college, a career, and life.


This interactive map by ESRI shows schools that are involved in specific programs that promote deeper learning.

Click to explore schools, districts, and networks that are bringing deeper learning to students around the country.


STEM Through Project-Based Learning Partnerships

MC2 STEM High School in Ohio was created through a public-private partnership, including Cleveland State University and GE, to provide real-world learning experiences for students in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields.

Photo by Allison Shelley/The Verbatim Agency for American Education: Images of Teachers and Students in Action

The high school awards course credit based on a competency system known as “mastery learning,” where students progress through their classes as they master course content, rather than simply putting in “seat time.” Curriculum implementation is fully embedded in the STEM industries, and students complete capstone experiences with the support and guidance of educators in the field and industry partners. This project-based learning experience allows students to work collaboratively and across subjects. MC2 STEM High School emphasizes internships and job shadowing, and students receive job-site mentors at each of the school’s three campuses, allowing them to connect with STEM professionals in impactful ways.

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Aligning Work-based Learning to Academic Standards

Harmony Magnet Academy was the first school in Porterville Unified School District (PUSD) (CA) to implement an approach to transforming high school education that combines rigorous academics, career-based learning in the classroom, work-based learning, and integrated student supports. High schools implementing this approach, known as Linked Learning, focus on specific industry themes, such as engineering, health care, performing arts, and others, to provide students with relevant learning experiences that directly engage state and local business and industry, higher education, and other community members.

Students at Harmony Magnet Academy participate in one of two Linked Learning career pathways―engineering and performing arts. Through PUSD’s Linked Learning approach, students (1) benefit from small learning communities and take classes as part of a cohort; (2) experience integrated curriculum across their career and technical education and academic courses; (3) participate in work-based learning tied to their industry-themed curriculum; (4) benefit from personalized student supports that meet the academic, personal, social, and emotional needs of the student; and (4) increase their learning time through block scheduling that allows time for accelerated and differentiated instruction. Each industry pathway has counselors and academic assistants who mentor students to provide additional personal, academic, and work-based learning support. PUSD offers twelve Linked Learning pathways across five high schools that are open to all students districtwide. Learn more about Linked Learning.

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District Perspective: Transforming Lives by Instilling 21st Century Skills

This snapshot is an excerpt from Partnership for 21st Century Learning’s Mapping 21st Century Learning

The Napa Valley Unified School District’s (NVUSD) and Napa County Office of Education’s commitment to deeper learning, which began with New Technology High School, spans two decades. Their early shift to a learning environment that positioned students for success in the new economy by focusing on outcomes, in addition to content competence, was not intended to launch an education revolution, but the evidence suggests that’s just what they achieved.

Fast forward to today, and it’s clear that NVUSD’s commitment to “transforming lives by instilling 21st century skills” has not wavered, but it has evolved. NVUSD believes learning must be “relevant to the real world in order that” students “thrive in the work force, contribute to their communities and become respected members of society.” To ensure equitable access to opportunity and to balance individual learning needs and gaps, NVUSD leverages the expertise of partners such as Napa Learns and New Tech Network to scale deeper learning and 21st century learning practices to teachers and students in each school in the district.

Scaling innovation from one school to all schools has produced a number of challenges. NVUSD utilizes a visual dartboard to anchor every structure, instructional practice, and academic area of focus to ensure that all students graduate with 21st century skills.


Take a Look Inside Deeper Learning Schools

Assessing for Deeper Learning at City Arts and Technology

Meet the students and teachers of City Arts and Technology (CAT). At the heart of the high school’s approach to teaching and learning is the school’s unique deeper learning assessment system.

Changing Student Lives at Impact Academy

Rahil, a student at Impact Academy in Hayward, California, describes what the school’s deeper learning approach has meant for him and his family.

Deeper Learning Network Schools

More than 500 schools around the country are currently implementing deeper learning. They are proof points—examples that show deeper learning can improve student outcomes. They are getting results by creating dynamic learning environments that enable students to develop a deep understanding of core content and can use that knowledge to solve problems, think critically, communicate effectively, and be self-reflective about their learning.

These schools are part of ten school networks, each of which has its own set of principles about organizing schools. For that reason, the schools are not the same—there is no one approach to deeper learning. What they share is a commitment to a broader set of outcomes for young people than conventional approaches to schooling provide. See an overview of all ten networks.

Asia Society has public schools that are developing globally competent, college-ready high school students. Our schools primarily serve socio-economically disadvantaged students in urban areas. Research shows our model–delivering a relevant, 21st century education–results in higher graduation rates and academic achievement than other schools with similar profiles.

Overview of Asia Society (PDF)

Big Picture Learning’s mission is to lead vital changes in education, both in the United States and internationally, by generating and sustaining innovative, personalized schools that work in tandem with the real world of the greater community. We believe that in order to sustain successful schools where authentic and relevant learning takes place, we must continually innovate techniques and test learning tools to make our schools better and more rigorous. Lastly, we believe that in order to create and influence the schools of the future, we must use the lessons learned through our practice and research to give us added leverage to impact changes in public policy.

Overview of Big Picture Learning (PDF)

Founded by the James Irvine Foundation in 2006, ConnectEd: The California Center for College and Career is dedicated to advancing practice, policy, and research aimed at helping young people prepare for both college and career through Linked Learning—a high school improvement approach. ConnectEd’s mission is to support the development of Linked Learning by which California’s young people can complete high school, enroll in postsecondary education, attain a formal credential, and embark on lasting success in the world of work, civic affairs, and family life.

Overview of ConnectEd (PDF)

Our vision is to change schools and schooling by establishing a network of schools with fundamental differences in teaching, learning and leading which will provide meaningful options for students, parents and educators. Our mission is to create schools that will enhance relationships and build relevant learning environments that empower students, parents and teachers to make choices. These learning environments utilize self-directed, project-based learning to build student autonomy through relevant learning opportunities; create student belongingness through full-time advisories; and empower teachers via teacher-led and democratically governed schools. To create engaging schools of this nature requires EdVisions to engage in dialogue concerning the nature of learning and assessment that aligns with whole-child development rather than academic achievement alone.

Overview of EdVisions Schools (PDF)

Envision Education was founded in 2002 on this simple idea. We believe the current achievement gap reflects a systemic failure to understand how kids learn, what motivates them to learn, and what they need in order to learn well. We employ the best practices of high school design —rigorous college-preparatory curricula, small and personalized learning environments, and a focus on measurable results—and add a truly innovative model that emphasizes project-based learning, development of Deeper Learning skills, integration of arts and technology into core subjects, real-world experience in workplaces, and a uniquely rigorous assessment system. Each Envision Education school employs specific learning tactics built upon the four key R’s: Rigor, Relevance, Relationships, and Results. Vibrant learning communities apply compassion and high expectations to inspire and empower students. Our approach is specifically designed to increase student engagement, deepen integration and understanding, promote active learning, and ensure college success. We hold all our students to rigorous academic standards while providing the necessary supports—academic, emotional, and behavioral—so they can achieve success in college and life.Overview of Envision Education (PDF)

Expeditionary Learning schools inspire the motivation to learn, engage teachers, and students in new levels of focus and effort, and transform schools into places where students and adults become leaders of their own learning. We provide a model that challenges students – even those starting with low skill levels – with high-level tasks and active roles in the classroom. This model succeeds in urban, rural, and suburban schools and at every grade level. We partner with schools, districts, and charter boards to open new schools and transform existing schools. We provide school leaders and teachers with professional development, curriculum planning resources, and new school structures to boost student engagement, character, and achievement.

Overview of Expeditionary Learning (PDF)

High Tech High began in 2000 as a single charter high school launched by a coalition of San Diego business leaders and educators. It has evolved into an integrated network of schools spanning grades K-12, housing a comprehensive teacher certification program and a new, innovative Graduate School of Education.

Overview of High Tech High (PDF)

Our mission is to provide quality education for recently arrived immigrants by growing and sustaining a strong national network of innovative International High Schools, while broadening our impact by sharing proven best practices and influencing policy for English learners on a national scale. Our vision is to ensure all recent immigrant students have access to a quality high school education that prepares them for college, career and full participation in democratic society, thereby opening doors to the American Dream.

Overview of Internationals Network for Public Schools (PDF)

New Tech Network is a non-profit organization that helps students gain the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in life, college, and the careers of tomorrow. We work nationwide with schools, districts, and communities to provide services and support that enable schools to fundamentally re-imagine teaching and learning. Project-based learning is at the heart of our instructional approach. In project-based learning, learning is contextual, creative, and shared. Students collaborate on projects that require critical thinking and communication. The smart use of technology supports our innovative approach to instruction and culture. All classrooms have a one-to-one computing ratio. Finally, each New Tech school maintains a culture that promotes trust, respect, and responsibility. At New Tech schools, students and teachers alike have exceptional ownership of the learning experience and their school environment.

New Tech Network Schools: 2017 Impact Report

Since 1993, we have created 133 New York City public schools that strive to prepare students for high school graduation as well as for successful futures in a career or college. In 2007, we were chosen by the New York City Department of Education to operate as a Partnership Support Organization (PSO). As a PSO, we began working closely with a network of 63 schools, which has since grown to 76 schools serving more than 34,000 students citywide. Our network includes schools serving students in grade ranges K-12, K-6, K-8, 6-12 and 9-12. In addition to supporting four prekindergarten programs, we serve 12 transfer schools designed to help older students who have fallen behind in credits to graduate. Ninety percent of our schools are either new or small schools.

Overview of New Visions for Public Schools (PDF)

Is your school or district engaging students in deeper learning experiences?

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