New Data Demonstrate Effectiveness, Progress of the Linked Learning District Initiative

SAN FRANCISCO – Today, SRI International’s Center for Education Policy (SRI) released new data from a multiyear evaluation of the California Linked Learning District Initiative demonstrating that Linked Learning students are making greater progress toward high school graduation and college eligibility than their peers in traditional high school programs.

The District Initiative began in 2009 and includes high schools in nine districts across the state. The findings indicate that Linked Learning students are earning more credits in the first two years of high school and are more likely to be on track to complete the a-g requirements needed for entry into a University of California (UC) or California State University (CSU) school compared with similar peers. In addition, Linked Learning students are more likely than similar peers to report that their high school experience has helped them improve a range of career and life skills.

“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. “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.”

The Irvine Foundation and ConnectEd launched the California Linked Learning District Initiative to support implementation of Linked Learning in nine school districts that collectively serve more than 315,000 high school students. The primary goal of the Initiative is to provide students with an educational experience that integrates rigorous academics with career-based learning and real-world workplace experiences. Linked Learning ignites high school students’ passions by creating meaningful, relevant learning experiences through career-oriented pathways in fields such as engineering, health care, performing arts and law.

“This initiative is a great demonstration that Linked Learning and career-technical education play important roles in keeping students engaged in their own education,” said California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson. “Combining coursework and real-life experience both shows students the relevance of what they learn and gives them the skills and knowledge that California employers say they need.”

Among the findings, Taking Stock of the California Linked Learning Initiative: Fourth-Year Evaluation Report reveals that Linked Learning students, compared with similar peers:
• Earned significantly more credits in the 9th grade, ranging from 3.4 to 12.7 more credits across districts.
• Earned significantly more credits in the 10th grade, ranging from 2.2 to 11 more credits across districts.
• Were 6 to 17 percentage points more likely by the end of 10th grade to be on track to complete the a–g courses required for admission to California’s public four-year universities.

In addition, in a student survey, 11th grade pathway students:
• Were 23 percentage points more likely than comparison students to report that high school prepares them for working with people in professional settings, and for working in groups to achieve a shared goal.
• Were 20 percentage points more likely than comparison students to report improved presentation skills.
• Were 14 percentage points more likely than comparison students to report improved ability to conduct online searches to answer a question.
• Were 12 percentage points more likely than comparison students to report growth in their belief that they could reach their goals with enough effort.

“These results suggest that Linked Learning students are more likely than similar peers to be gaining career and life readiness skills critical for success in college and in any career field,” said Roneeta Guha, Senior Researcher at the Center for Education Policy of SRI International and the director of this multiyear study.

Through the AB 790 Linked Learning Pilot Program, 63 additional districts serving more than 600,000 students have signed on to pilot Linked Learning pathways—providing more opportunities for students to participate in a transformative approach to high school education that is a personally relevant, wholly engaging experience—exposing them to previously unimagined college and career opportunities.

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About Linked Learning
Linked Learning is an approach that is transforming education for California students by integrating rigorous academics with career-based learning and real world workplace experiences. Linked Learning ignites high school students’ passions by creating meaningful learning experiences through career-oriented pathways in fields such as engineering, health care, performing arts, law, and more. When students love what they’re learning, they work harder, dream bigger, and learn more. www.LinkedLearning.org.

About SRI International
SRI International is a nonprofit research and innovation center headquartered in Silicon Valley. Government and business clients worldwide come to SRI for pioneering solutions in biomedical sciences and health, chemistry and materials, computing, education, economic development, energy, security and defense, robotics, sensing, and more. We provide research, laboratory and advisory services, technology development and licenses, deployable systems, products, and venture opportunities. Our innovations have created new industries and marketplace value, and lasting benefits to society. Visit SRI’s website and Timeline of Innovation to learn more.