Instructional Resources

Below you will find links to organizations and websites that provide valuable resources, beyond curriculum, for building or strengthening the instructional program of a career academy.  This is not a comprehensive list but rather a few gems.

Please use and icons to the right of the headings to expand and contract individual sections.

Project Based Learning

What is it, how to do it and why. Tools for planning and implementing project-based learning. Sample projects and outcomes. Resources for professional development.

Buck Institute for Education. &
Supporting teachers to develop project based curriculum founded on a rigorous inquiry approach to a complex question, problem or challenge. This site provides resources, guides, and valuable tools for planning, implementing, assessing and revising project based curriculum, as well as professional development resources, sample projects.

CCASN Curriculum Database. Visit the CCASN Curriculum Database  This searchable curriculum database offers a wide range of CTE and academic curriculum with strong career and industry themes. Many are interdisciplinary and project-based. This is an essential resource for connecting academic teachers to an interdisciplinary project theme, or finding foundational materials for a team-designed project.

ConnectEd Studios.
This online platform provides students and teachers access to integrated curriculum units, multimedia resources, sample integrated projects, and project planning tools that allow teachers to coordinate calendars and align lessons to CTE, state and common core standards as they map their curriculum. Requires a simple registration process to access.

An essential starting place for interdisciplinary project based learning is ConnectEd Studio’s  Curriculum and Assessment home page, where a suite of tools is available to map curriculum, create projects, design performance tasks, and construct rubrics from measurable student learning outcomes.  The Community of Practice Continuum developed by ConnectEd includes an Instructional Design and Revision Cycle that is fully supported with common core aligned, outcome-based adaptable rubrics and other tools. Also valuable is their guide for designing integrated project-based curriculum, available at this ConnectEd resource. To see a short video of the process of designing multidisciplinary curriculum units, check out this excellent video clip:

What makes project-based learning successful, how to do it, sample projects, research-supported best PBL practices, and more. Edutopia emphasizes these core strategies for transforming the learning process: comprehensive assessment, integrated studies, project-based learning, social and emotional learning, teacher development and technology integration.

Envision Schools. This network of schools utilizes project-based learning to engage students in problem-based and critical thinking lessons. Their website for teachers to share project-based high school curriculum is open to the public, and many of their projects are interdisciplinary and suited to career academy themes.

Global School.Net.
Global SchoolNet’s main purpose is to help teachers find collaborative learning partners and appropriate projects, but in addition to their excellent global PBL connections, they offer professional development and PBL and cooperative learning teacher resources. Global promotes content-driven collaboration by engaging educators and students in meaningful e-learning projects worldwide to develop science, math, literacy and communication skills, foster teamwork, civic responsibility and collaboration, encourage workforce preparedness and create multi-cultural understanding.

The National Academy Foundation has 30 years of experience providing industry-based curricula, professional development, work-based learning experiences, and business partner expertise. NAF makes many of its resources available on its public website. This guide focuses on digital storytelling as a tool and instructional best practice for Academies.

Integrating Work-based Learning

A continuum of educational strategies intended to help students learn about, through, and for work. Takes place in a workplace, a community, a school, or via technological support in a blended learning context. These resources support this continuum, from middle school through post secondary.

Graph showing work-based learning continuum, from K through grade 13 highlighting Career Practicum beginning in middle school

Alliance for Education Toolkit: Career Academy/Small School Advisory Groups.  This toolkit developed by the Alliance for Education was written specifically for the community volunteers who support the development of career academies and small learning communities through Advisory Board participation. It provides planning tools, addresses frequently asked questions, and offers samples from work in Seattle Public Schools. Download it here.

California Career Resource Network and California Career Zone. 
California Career Resource Network (CalCRN) distributes career information, resources and training materials to ensure that schools have what they need to provide students with guidance and instruction on education and job requirements for career development. The California CareerZone is a web-based career exploration system created by CalCRN and available free of charge.

California Hospital Association. With support from the James Irvine Foundation, the California Hospital Association created a Roadmap for Creating a Health Care Work-Based Learning Program: A Guide to Creating and Expanding Health Sector Work-Based Learning Opportunities for High School Students (2015). Both a report and a resource, the roadmap provides guidance and tools for employers and educators, and makes recommendations that address barriers to help high school students gain valuable, hands-on, real-world experience in health care. For a printed copy of the roadmap, contact Cathy Martin at

Career Locker.
This program is available for an annual subscription fee. It offers accounts for students and staff with your school’s personalized logo, ePortfolio and Individual Learning Plan capability, integrated college search tools, “Reel Life” career model videos, Budget Builder slideshows, a Spanish version, free webinars, an online demo, and technical

ConnectEd Studios. ​​
This online platform provides students and teachers access to integrated curriculum units, multimedia resources, project planning tools, and it allows students and teachers to connect online to industry professionals in the process of developing and evaluating work products. No costs are involved, and the connected character of the tools and resources is awesome. A valuable report that provides both standards and options for implementing work-based learning is available at this ConnectEd resource. To see a short video introduction to work-based learning, go to this site:  ConnectEd Studios also houses the Exploring College, Career and Community Options (ECCCO) curriculum, which is designed to guide high school students through a comprehensive set of lessons and performance tasks, with the goal of getting all students prepared for success in college, career, and their communities. ECCCO is free to schools with participation in instructor training.

Green 360 Career Catalyst.
The Green 360 Career Catalyst is an on-line free resources that complements a student’s coursework. The Career Catalyst guides students by giving them an opportunity to identify their strengths, explore careers that they may enjoy, and connects them to solving real-world challenges. Provide students with the tools and information they need to make the best education and career choices for themselves – let the Career Catalyst help!

Junior Achievement, USA.
A nonprofit organization that recruits and trains volunteers and provides them with the materials to work in classroom-based, after-school, and “capstone” (job shadowing) programs about entrepreneurship, work readiness and financial literacy. Local JA program managers will coordinate arrangements, schedule volunteers, and provide all materials, such as a work readiness curriculum that can be used by older students to work with 9th graders, and curriculum units students can take to elementary schools to teach.

Kuder Navigator.
Career assessment, education and career planning, career development, college search and portfolio resources, available for an annual subscription fee.

NAF.  Guide to Work-Based Learning
NAF offers valuable resources for building a strong career academy program, including this excellent guide to developing an Advisory Board that can proactively support high school educators to develop curricula and integrate work-based learning experiences, including internships.

Roadtrip Nation.
Roadtrip Nation seeks to empower students to map their interests to future pathways in life by exploring their communities and speaking with local leaders to learn the steps that they took to get where they are today. Their secondary curriculum includes twelve online lessons, and a Roadtrip Project, with 7 online lessons and a Virtual Roadtrip Project for middle schoolers. There is also a Higher Ed Program. Connected to a PBS series, there are teacher guides for many of the video episodes, as well as special editions of the curriculum for AVID classrooms and Green Academies. Contact Roadtrip Nation for cost information.

Assessments and Rubrics
Performance-based assessments can drive an interdisciplinary team’s project planning work. Common rubrics allow teachers to calibrate their assessments of student work, and can be adapted to individual subject areas. When common rubrics are incorporated into formative assessments, students can see their own growth and are well prepared for summative performances. Here are some of the best sources on how to develop assessments and rubrics.

Buck Institute for Education.

Supporting teachers to develop project based curriculum, and founded on a rigorous inquiry approach to a complex question, problem or challenge. This site provides resources, guides, and valuable tools for planning, implementing, assessing and revising project based curriculum, as well as professional development resources, sample projects. Useful tools, including templates for rubrics and for backwards mapping assessments for project-based learning, can be found at

Coalition of Essential Schools.
This is a useful overview of alternative assessment approaches especially valuable when trying to decide what to assessment to use to culminate a project, with links to additional resources.

ConnectEd Studios.
This online platform includes project planning tools for teachers to map curriculum aligned with standards, define interdisciplinary project performance tasks and connect them to validated student learning outcomes. These can be tied to any of an excellent selection of rubrics so that teachers can tailor assessments to project, course and pathway outcomes using CCSS and NGSS performance-based task language. The site also includes sample integrated units in many industry fields. You must register to access resources. This site is specifically designed for college and career pathways, or “Linked Learning” programs.

Ten Tips for Assessing Project Based Learning is a practical guide for educators replete with links to resources and tools for each of the suggestions.

This site offers a free online tool for creating rubrics. It requires registration, but then rubrics can be adopted from the extensive bank of model rubrics, created from scratch using a template, or adapted from samples. Sample rubrics cover common project-based products as well as subject and skill-specific assessments.

Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.
An essential resource for aligning project based curriculum to common core and next generation science standards, this site includes sample items and performance tasks for both English language arts / literacy (including all subject areas) and mathematics.

West Virginia Department of Education’s Project 21 Project-Based Curiculum Tools.
In addition to Project 21’s many teacher-created integrated project-based learning curriculum units, this site has tools and resources useful in the creation of project-based curriculum, including sample rubrics, self and peer assessments and a rubric for evaluating project plans.

Implementing New Standards
Useful resources for creating cross-curricular, project based, career-field related curriculum that aligns with new Common Core State Standards, Next Generation Science Standards, National CTE Standards, and others as they are completed and adopted by the states, such as the College, Career and Civic Life Standards for Social Studies.

Achieve the Core.
This website is full of free content designed to help educators understand and implement the Common Core State Standards. It includes practical tools gathered by the main authors of the Common Core ELA standards, who have formed a non-profit organization to support Common Core Implementation, Student Achievement Partners. Organized into sections for Literacy, Math, and Leadership Tools, it is searchable by grade level and school level. The site includes resources for professional development as well as lessons, samples, assessments, and tools, such as for analyzing text complexity or writing text-dependent questions.

Mathematics Assessment Project.
This project has created a series of lessons aligned to the Common Core State Standards for Mathematical Practice. Classroom Challenges are performance tasks that both reveal and develop students’ understandings of key mathematical ideas and applications. Concept development lessons focus on assessing and developing conceptual understanding, and problem solving lessons focus on the application of previously learned materials to non-routine problems. Professional development modules are built around the Classroom Challenges lessons, to help teachers with the pedagogical and mathematical challenges involved in the wider range of classroom strategies and skills required for this applied, in-depth pedagogical shift. MAP is an international collaboration between the University of California at Berkeley, and the Shell Center team at the University of Nottingham with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Literacy in Learning Exchange.  This site is maintained by the National Center for Literacy Education (NCLE), and includes links to valuable resources for implementing ELA Literacy standards, such as Literacy in Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects: Scaffolding Levels of Text Complexity (With Discipline-based Texts), and documents for use by teams examining instructional practices that improve student achievement. Their Framework for Building Capacity, and the associated Asset Inventory are excellent resources for building a collaborative team culture aimed at improving student achievement.


Common Core State Standards Initiative.  Site includes English Language Arts standards and ELA Literacy standards for Social Studies/History, Science and Technical Subjects, by grade level, as well as the Standards for Mathematical Practice.

Next Generation Science Standards.  In addition to the Next Generation Science Standards, viewable by disciplinary core ideas, topics, or individual performance expectations, this site includes useful appendices. The conceptual shifts, disciplinary core idea progression, crosscutting concepts, Engineering Design in NGSS, and many others provide valuable references for course and curriculum development in a college and career academy model.

College, Career and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards.  Released in Fall, 2013, the C3 Framework was purposefully designed to offer guidance for state social studies standards, not to outline specific content to be delivered. As states adopt this set of standards, they will use the framework to identify and organize the specific content and concepts to be taught. This C3 framework is organized around four dimensions of an inquiry arc, corresponding to four sets of learning expectations. With an the emphasis on Common Core ELA and Literacy skills, critical thinking, problem solving and participatory skills, these standards support interdisciplinary, project-based and applied instructional practices.

Creating a College-Going Culture
How to expand college access, demonstrate the importance of going to college, and overcome barriers that often prevent college attendance. Information on dual enrollment and articulation with postsecondary.

The College Board: Their Creating a College-Going Culture Guide offers many resources and concrete suggestions for developing a college-going culture, available at this link: CollegeEd. An online resource for developing a college-going culture is also offered as one of the professional development modules available from the College Board and the National Association of Secondary School Principals at this link: Leading Success.

Transcript Evaluation Service (TES).
Analytic software technology and expert transcript evaluation to support strategies that increase academic achievement by increasing access and enrollment in college preparatory (University of California a-g approved) coursework for all students. Eliminate the time-sensitive process of individual transcript evaluation, freeing up more time for direct engagement with students. Schoolwide, grade level and individual student color reports provide information on progress toward the basic “a-g” college preparatory course pattern, on which school-wide curriculum planning can be based and provide vivid visual prompts for students to choose a rigorous academic course pattern early in school.

Dual Enrollment and Articulation with Postsecondary Institutions:

Dual Enrollment Handbook: Building and Scaling Effective Practices for Leadership and Implementation Teams (2020)
Produced by the Orange County Pathways and Early College Credit Regional Scale-Up Project.

The Dual Enrollment Playbook: A Guide to Equitable Acceleration for Students
From the Community College Research Center at Teachers College, Columbia University.

Dual Enrollment Toolkit: A Resource for Community Colleges and School District Partners (2019)
Produced by the Career Ladders Project, which provides a wealth of resources and tools supporting successful transitions to college.

Statewide Career Pathways,
Sample articulation agreement and other templates that assist high school and college faculty to collaborate and develop programs of study, including articulation of high school coursework.  Outreach strategies to encourage participation of students, parents and schools/college personnel.

UC a-g Approval
In California, high schools must submit courses to the University of California for approval to satisfy the “a-g” subject requirements, the standard course sequence requirement for freshman admission to the University of California and California State University systems.

UC a-g guide.
Find out what the “a-g” requirements are, how courses are evaluated, what support and assistance is available, how to update a schools’ a-g list, resources and tools specific to get CTE and online courses approved.

A-G Course Management Portal.
Search for courses by subject area or career field, access the A-G Policy Resource Guide, find your own school’s course list, get updates on new admissions policies and much more.

UC Curriculum Integration (UCCI).
UCCI brought together educators to create innovative high school courses that integrate academics and CTE during 4-day Institutes for submittal to the UC for “a-g” approval in the academic area. The courses earned program status and are available for any high school in California to adopt. Search the site for approved courses to simply add to your schools’ “a-g” list.

Validation Rules.
Rules from the University of California admissions office that help explain how advanced coursework in math and Language Other Than English (LOTE, aka World Languages) may validate lower-level coursework or grades below a “C”.

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