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New Report from CAP, Alliance for Excellent Education Finds Linked Learning Boosts Underserved Students’ Education Outcomes Through Creative Use of Time

Washington, D.C. — Used in conjunction with the rigorous Common Core standards, initiatives that creatively use time to accomplish ambitious academic and professional goals—such as Linked Learning—are transformative in helping students achieve positive education outcomes, a report from the Center for American Progress and the Alliance for Excellent Education finds.

“Programs such as Linked Learning that help prepare students for the rigors of college and careers are making a big difference in increasing high school performance and graduation rates, especially for African American and Hispanic students,” said Tiffany Miller, Associate Director of School Improvement at CAP. “The Linked Learning approach requires students and educators to perform several tasks that do not neatly fit within the confines of a traditional school schedule and day. Through the California districts that employ Linked Learning, we can see how districts and schools are using learning time more strategically.”

According to the report, Linked Learning: Using Learning Time Creatively to Prepare Students for College and Career, California’s Linked Learning approach was implemented in 2008 in response to the fact that nearly one-third of underrepresented students of color were not graduating high school in four years. The program blends core academic content with technical education and real-world applications, and research has found that students participating in a Linked Learning pathway are earning more credits toward graduation, graduating at higher rates, and enrolling in colleges at higher rates than their peers.

CAP and the Alliance for Excellent Education found that districts and schools are utilizing multiple approaches to provide students and teachers with more and better learning time, including longer school days, afterschool programs, and work-based learning. These frameworks for successfully increasing learning time through the Linked Learning approach provide a promising strategy for changing the trajectory of outcomes for underserved students, including students of color.

“The traditional school schedule is often inadequate to provide students with a college- and career-ready education,” said Bob Wise, president of the Alliance and former governor of West Virginia. “Approaches such as Linked Learning, however, are blurring the lines between in-school and out-of-school time by integrating strong academics centered on college preparation, demanding career-based learning, and real-world experience, ensuring that high school graduates are better prepared to succeed in the 21st century.”

CAP and the Alliance for Excellent Education also make recommendations for leveraging the potential of Linked Learning-style programs and increased learning time. These include: increased flexibility and funding, through congressional appropriations, for 21st-Century Community Learning Centers, as well as funding for the Obama administration’s proposal for a high school redesign program that includes support for the more strategic use of time. CAP and the Alliance also recommend that districts should give schools the flexibility to redesign their master schedules so that teachers and students have the necessary time to implement effective approaches to high school reforms such as Linked Learning.

Click here to read CAP and the Alliance’s report, Linked Learning: Using Learning Time Creatively to Prepare Students for College and Career.

To view a recent webinar that features this report and the Linked Learning approach, click here.

The Alliance for Excellent Education is a Washington, DC–based national policy and advocacy organization dedicated to ensuring all students, particularly those traditionally underserved, graduate from high school ready for success in college, work, and citizenship.