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Independent Evaluation Shows That Linked Learning Is Working for California Students

December 9, 2014 | Linked Learning Alliance

SAN FRANCISCO – New data from a multiyear evaluation of the nine districts participating in the California Linked Learning District Initiative show both the positive impact Linked Learning has had for students across the state over the past five years, as well as its continued potential. The evaluation was conducted by SRI International’s Center for Education Policy (SRI). “Since its inception, Linked Learning has shown promise in engaging students and in preparing them for life beyond high school,” said Roneeta Guha, senior researcher in SRI’s Center for Education Policy and co-principal investigator of this study. “Compared with their peers, students in certified pathways earn more credits in the first three years of high school, report greater confidence in their life and career skills, and say they are experiencing more rigorous, integrated and relevant instruction. Importantly, they are also more likely to stay in their district through high school instead of transferring or dropping out before graduation.” Released today, Taking Stock of the California Linked Learning Initiative: Fifth-Year Evaluation Report reveals that Linked Learning students report greater confidence in their life and career skills, goals of the Common Core State Standards. Additionally, compared with similar peers in traditional high school programs: • On average, students enrolled in certified pathways were 5.2 percentage points more likely to remain in their district through 12th grade rather than transferring or dropping out before graduation. • Students in certified pathways accumulated more credits in grades 9–11, indicating they are more likely to be on track toward graduation than similar peers. • Students in certified pathways were more likely to be on track to complete a–g curriculum requirements in the 10th grade. The research also shows that English learners, African American and Latino students, and underachieving students enrolled in certified pathways perform at least as well—if not better—on credit accumulation and test score outcomes compared with similar peers in traditional high schools. “We’re pleased that SRI’s independent evaluation validates the tremendous promise of Linked Learning,” said Anne Stanton, director of the Youth Program of The James Irvine Foundation. “Based on these findings, we know that Linked Learning is working for students and is increasing equity by improving engagement and success of students who come into Linked Learning with low achievement scores.” “Part of Linked Learning’s success stems from the fact that students like Linked Learning, and are thus more deeply engaged with their coursework and set up for success in school. They’re learning things that matter to them, which in turn drives them to work harder, dream bigger and achieve more,” said Christopher Cabaldon, executive director of the Linked Learning Alliance. “And just as importantly for California, these students are coming out of high school with the

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self-confidence and grit needed to succeed in both college and career.” The Irvine Foundation and ConnectEd, the California Center for College and Career, launched the California Linked Learning District Initiative in 2009 to support implementation of Linked Learning in nine school districts that collectively serve approximately 286,000 high school students, or 15 percent of the state. Linked Learning integrates college-focused academics with work-based learning and support for students. Centering high school around industry themes such as engineering, health care and law makes learning relevant. Students graduate with the skills and confidence to succeed in college, career and life. “The nine Linked Learning District Initiative districts provide many helpful best practices as the Linked Learning movement expands across California through the AB 790 Linked Learning Pilot Program and the California Career Pathways Trust,” said Gary Hoachlander, president of ConnectEd. “This most recent evaluation should strengthen everyone’s faith that Linked Learning is the right way to go to deliver quality education to young people that prepares them equally well for college and career. But it also tells us how important the quality of the program itself is, as we see the strongest results in certified Linked Learning pathways.” 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—and exposing them to previously unimagined college and career opportunities. ### About Linked Learning Linked Learning is a proven approach to education that combines college-focused academics, work-based learning, and intensive student supports. By centering high school around industry themes, it makes learning relevant. Students graduate with the skills and confidence to succeed in college, career and life. About SRI International SRI International is a leader in research and development whose innovations have created new industries, extraordinary marketplace value and lasting benefits to society. SRI provides government and business with pioneering R&D and solutions in biosciences, chemistry and materials, computing, education, engineering, security and defense, sensing and devices, and more. SRI brings its innovations to the marketplace through technology licensing, spin-off ventures and new products.