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Is this model the future of college and career readiness?

By Stephen Noonoo, Editor, @stephenoonoo
November 3rd, 2015

A career academy high school puts 21st century skills to the test with on-the-job training

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North of Los Angeles, not far from the city of Ventura, the brand new Rancho Campana High School sits on a California campus fit for the set of a teen movie, where spacious, airy classrooms open — via retractable glass-paneled garage doors — onto sun soaked courtyards and outdoor learning spaces with sweeping views of the neighboring Camarillo Hills. It’s a place where all the furniture is on casters, to be reconfigured with ease, and where every building boasts a computer lab and a media commons.

If the $77 million campus, completed earlier this summer, is stunning, it’s nothing compared to what’s going on inside. Following a novel college and career readiness model, Rancho Campana divides itself into separate learning academies, designed to immerse students in one of three distinct career fields: arts and entertainment, health services, and applied engineering.

The school is obviously the newest showpiece of the Oxnard Union High School District, but it’s also of a continuation of the work began four years ago by then-newly arrived superintendent Dr. Gabe Soumakian, who has always cast an eye toward the future. “When I got here in 2011, that was one of my first projects,” Soumakian said. “To really think about the learning space that we were going to create, and the tools and resources we’d need.”

Next page: Why the model works