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With Nation Needing Workers with Education Beyond High School, New Alliance Report Shows How “Linked Learning” Is Preparing High School Students for Postsecondary Success

WASHINGTON, DC – By 2020, two-thirds of the nation’s jobs will require at least some postsecondary education, but estimates indicate that the nation will fall short by as many as 5 million qualified workers. Beyond High School: Efforts to Improve Postsecondary Transitions Through Linked Learning, a new report from the Alliance for Excellent Education shows how some California schools are using an educational approach called “Linked Learning” to better prepare students for postsecondary success.

“Linked Learning is helping to plug the leaky education pipeline in California, but one state is not enough,” said Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former governor of West Virginia. “Every student who is at risk of falling between the cracks deserves the opportunity to be better prepared for life after high school graduation and to have the confidence to take on more challenging academics and careers. Linked Learning can help accomplish that.”

Linked Learning combines rigorous academics, real-world technical skills, work-based learning, and personalized support to provide students with a relevant high school experience that prepares them for success in college and a career. And, as the report demonstrates, several California schools and school districts have successfully used Linked Learning to increase high school graduation rates and college-going rates.

At Dozier-Libby Medical High School (DLMHS) in Antioch, CA, 97 percent students graduated on time in 2012 compared to the state and district averages of 79 percent and 66 percent, respectively. Porterville Unified School District (PUSD) boasted a 72 percent graduation rate for its English learners that same year, 10 points higher than the state average for English learners.

Not only are students graduating from high school, they are graduating better prepared for the job market and are more likely to enter postsecondary education. The Center for Advanced Research and Technology (CART) in Clovis, CA, is comprised of 1,400 students from fifteen different area high schools attending career-focused classes, such as professional sciences and global economics. Roughly 80 percent of CART students go on to a four-year program, a two-year program, or a technical school.

Linked Learning has been especially successful in improving educational outcomes for students of color and students from low-income backgrounds. For example, at PUSD—where 79 percent of students are Hispanic and 86 percent are low-income—the graduation rate for the Class of 2012 was higher than the state average.

While Linked Learning has recently expanded to Texas and Michigan, the report offers several policy recommendations at the state and federal levels that could help this approach make a broader impact. At the state level, the report emphasizes a need for an increase in the integration of academic and career and technical courses, and a greater focus on the transition between high school and postsecondary education. At the federal level, the report asserts that federal funding from programs such as School Improvement Grants (SIG) should be made available to districts to implement Linked Learning.

Beyond High School: Efforts to Improve Postsecondary Transitions Through Linked Learning is available online at

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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.