Three Work-Based Learning Plans to Serve as Statewide Models

Spencer High School STEM BEST Program students travel to local work sites with high-demand jobs.
Spencer Community School District was one of three STEM BEST Programs with a work-based learning plan that was chosen as an exemplar for other districts interested in transforming community engagement in schools.

Career-linked learning, also known as work-based learning (WBL), is an effective tool for educators to link what is taught in the classroom to what is needed to thrive as employees and contributing members of the community. Skills and habits ranging from punctuality to problem solving and collaboration to critical thinking may best be acquired in the context of jobs and work. Knowledge and its applications of classroom concepts, like chemical bonding to the manufacture of ethanol or quadratic equations to retail goods pricing, make learning more meaningful.

That is why the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council, in collaboration with the Iowa Department of Education and the Iowa Business Council, offered an opportunity for STEM BEST Program models to design relevant, engaging K-12 WBL plans or to improve upon existing plans.

Districts were selected based on the following factors:

  • the spectrum of innovative WBL options described, connecting K-12 classrooms to future careers;
  • the intent to integrate WBL in a cohesive way across grade levels and content disciplines to diverse students;
  • the involvement of businesses and other community partners; and
  • how professional development will be provided to educators and their workplace partners.

Three visionary, comprehensive WBL plans are now available to help elevate the statewide WBL conversation and for other schools to utilize as they consider developing or enhancing their own WBL plans. To view the WBL plans, visit

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