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2023 Linked Learning Conference Highlights

March 2, 2023

At this year’s 2023 Linked Learning Conference, more than 600 people joined together to create more coherent, effective K–12-to-college-to-career experiences for our young people. We enabled student voice, prioritized meaningful relationships to support learning, and doubled down on our commitment to excellence and equity as we work to meet this moment for young people and the future, we all share.

Over the course of the conference, we dug deep on some of the hard stuff — all the logistics, alignment, support, and connections that take so much doing, so much intentionality to create a truly coherent learning journey.

We aimed high, with help from our guest speakers, including:

  • Dr. Amy Loyd, Assistant Secretary for the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education at the U.S. Department of Education
  • Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond, President and CEO of the Learning Policy Institute and the Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education Emeritus at Stanford University
  • Jorge Aguilar, Superintendent, Sacramento City Unified School District
  • Dale Marsden, Former Superintendent, San Bernardino City Unified School District
  • Sophie Fanelli, President, Stuart Foundation
  • Marie Mackintosh, President and CEO, EmployIndy
  • Kyle Seipp, Coordinator for Postsecondary Transition and Success, E3 Alliance
  • Sylvia Symonds, Senior Program Officer, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Jennifer Mellor, Chief Innovation Officer, Greater Phoenix Chamber

A Meeting of the Minds

Dr. Amy Loyd discussed the importance of combining college AND career preparation. She described high-quality college and career pathways as “options multipliers that allow our students to compete on a national stage in a global economy.” She also noted that “every student deserves to graduate with four keys to success: college credit, work-based learning experience, an industry credential they can use, and a clear plan for their future.”

Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond shared the state’s vision for rethinking and redesigning our educational system to meet the needs of all our students and our economic future through investments in Golden State Pathways, Dual Enrollment, and Community Schools. She described the equity imperative of Linked Learning and how it helps create supportive, restorative, loving schools for kids to learn. Participants then heard from superintendent leaders in Sacramento City and San Bernardino City Unified who discussed the potential of using new state resources in tandem with Linked Learning outcomes to create new coherence at the local level.

Participants also heard emerging lessons learned from education leaders in Arizona, Indiana, and Texas as they reflected on their efforts to uncover new solutions that close the chasm between K–12, college, and career through Accelerate [ED]: Seamless Pathways to Degrees and Careers, a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation initiative which supports design teams from diverse communities as they build and scale promising strategies that boost student transitions.

Quality + Coherence=Equity

Through the conference, we centered everything on the insights and inspiration shared with us by our outstanding student performers, panelists, and honorees. They are the why behind all of it. We recognized how equity, coherence, and quality go hand in hand. They are interrelated and all required for our success. And, in some of our favorite moments from the conference, we’ve witnessed what’s possible when it all comes together as we celebrated Linked Learning pathways that are achieving new levels of certification for the quality of their work and our first-ever Linked Learning students of the year who have made meaningful contributions to their community.

Taking Action

Now you may know that it is our bias here at Linked Learning not to be satisfied with talk and aspiration. Of course, we love those things, but we are a doing organization, and we suspect that if you are here, you are a doer too. This conference marked the beginning of our journey toward coherence. We don’t get there without rolling up our sleeves and taking action. This is the movement part of the movement.

Thus, it was only fitting that we wrapped our time together engaging in collective action through a Catalyzing Coherence Lab, where we deepened our mutual understanding of key federal and state funding streams—including California’s Golden State Pathways Program; identified opportunities to leverage these funds into equitable, relevant, rigorous pathways in each local community; and unpacked tools and resources available to us as we work together on this active, important project for a stronger, better learning and career pipeline.

Moving Forward

Thanks to all who attended for your presence and passion for this work. You recognized that this is our once-and-a-lifetime opportunity to transform the learning experience for students and the future. And you’re here—for your co-collaborators on this journey, and most importantly, for our students—to help us get this right.
We will create a more coherent, effective K–12-to-college-to-career journey—toppling barriers, filling gaps, smoothing transitions, and integrating systems.

We will insist on quality and equity every step of the way.

And we will meet his moment.

Stay tuned for more, as we’ll share video highlights captured by our student-led communications team soon!