Linked Learning is an educational approach that integrates rigorous academics with career-based learning and real-world workplace experiences. In 2009, the James Irvine Foundation launched the California Linked Learning District Initiative to demonstrate this approach in nine of the state’s school districts. Released in February, a new rigorous multiyear evaluation report of the initiative by Center for Education Policy at SRI International finds that, compared with similar peers, students participating in certified Linked Learning pathways earn more credits in their first two years of high school and are more likely to be on track to complete the “a–g” courses required for admission to California’s public four-year universities.
“We’re very pleased that these new data continue to show the effectiveness and potential of the Linked Learning approach to change the lives of young people in our state,” said Anne Stanton, director of the youth program of The James Irvine Foundation, which commissioned the evaluation report. “As Linked Learning is rapidly expanding across California, what we’re learning from the District Initiative will help guide the successful implementation of Linked Learning in districts that are newer to Linked Learning. Ultimately, this will improve outcomes for students even more.”
According to the evaluation report, Taking Stock of the California Linked Learning District Initiative, students enrolled in certified Linked Learning pathways earned an average of 6.6 more credits in the tenth grade than similar peers in a more traditional high school program. As shown in the image below—taken from the report—the number of additional credits ranged from a high of 11.0 in Oakland to 2.0 in Porterville.
Students in Linked Learning pathways were also 8.9 percentage points more likely to be on track at the end of tenth grade to complete the a–g requirements. The percentage-point differences ranged from a high of 17 in West Contra Costa to 5 in Oakland and Porterville.
Taking Stock also finds that Linked Learning students in eleventh grade were more likely than comparison students to report that they had improved a range of skills, including working in a group to achieve a shared goal (62 percent versus 39 percent), working with people in a professional setting (56 percent versus 33 percent), and communicating with adults (40 percent versus 29 percent).
Although students in certified pathways make significantly more progress compared with similar peers toward graduation each year, the report notes that comparisons of student performance on tests of English language arts and mathematics content knowledge provide mixed findings.
More information on the report is available at http://www.sri.com/work/publications/taking-stock-california-linked-learning-district-initiative-fourth-year-evaluation-execsumm.