Resource Library

As a hub for the Linked Learning movement, the Alliance offers research, stories, and tools that help people understand the impact of Linked Learning and implement this approach at high levels of quality.

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Building Academic Skills in Context

Testing the Value of Enhanced Math Learning in CTE

This study offers strong evidence that rigorous academics integrated with technical curriculum leads to higher test scores if successfully implemented. In this research, career and technical education (CTE) teachers were paired with math teachers who identified the mathematical content embedded in the CTE teachers’ subjects and developed lesson plans to teach the math within the occupational context. The 57 CTE teachers who helped develop the math–enhanced lessons were randomly assigned to classrooms and delivered the curriculum for about 10 percent of class time over the course of one year; 74 CTE teachers not participating in such development taught other classrooms with traditional instruction. The almost 3,000 enrolled students were given math pre-tests and were tested again a year later. Those taught the integrated curriculum significantly outscored the control group on two tests of math ability.

Research, Career-Technical Education, Outcomes, Rigorous Academics

This report shows that schools utilizing a Linked Learning approach have achieved higher graduation rates and exit exam passing rates, with a greater percentage of students eligible for California State University (CSU) or the University of California (UC). Researchers found that 50 percent of students in California Partnership Academies completed the “A–G” requirements needed to be eligible for admission to California’s public universities – compared with only 39 percent of graduates statewide. More than 70 percent of the academies’ African-American students passed the math portion of the California High School Exit Exam, compared with 55 percent of African-American high school students in the state. Furthermore, 96 percent of academy seniors graduated, compared with 87 percent statewide.

Research, Career-Technical Education, Outcomes, Rigorous Academics

This study describes three key pieces of evidence supporting adoption of the Linked Learning approach. Those attending California Partnership Academies had better California High School Exit Exam pass rates, completed more rigorous courses, and had better high school graduation rates. Operating in more than 300 high schools, California Partnership Academies are one model of Linked Learning pathways.

Research, Career-Technical Education, Outcomes, Rigorous Academics

Career Academies

Long-Term Impacts on Labor Market Outcomes, Educational Attainment, and Transitions to Adulthood
June 2008 | MDRC

Rigorous academics integrated with career-based learning can lead to higher wages after high school. This study examines the outcomes of 1,700 students enrolled in career academies that offered the Linked Learning approach to predominantly minority students. The study showed that four years after graduation from high school, career academy graduates were earning more than their traditionally educated counterparts. While this was true for both men and women, the result was statistically significant for men in a Linked Learning pathway, who earned 18 percent ($10,000) more over the four-year period after high school.

The findings demonstrate the feasibility of improving labor market preparation and successful school-to-work transitions without compromising academic goals and preparation for college. Investments in career-related experiences during high school can produce substantial and sustained improvements in the labor market prospects and transitions to adulthood of youth. In fact, Career Academies are one of the few youth-focused interventions that have been found to improve the labor market prospects of young men. At the same time, Career Academies have proven to be challenging to implement on a large scale with high levels of fidelity, and the evidence from this evaluation may not apply to programs that are partially implemented or that use only selected features of the Academy approach. Further research should be conducted to determine the effects of key Academy components.

Research, Career-Technical Education, Outcomes, Rigorous Academics

Distributive Leadership in District Reform

A Model for Taking Linked Learning to Scale

This brief describes distributive leadership, shares an example of a California district using this practice to implement reform, surfaces potential challenges, and offers questions to consider.

Successful reform can go beyond a single classroom or school, and outlast an individual. Successful, ongoing reform initiatives exist and they are supported by some key attributes—chief among them is the practice of distributive leadership. This brief describes distributive leadership, shares an example of a California district using this practice to implement reform, surfaces potential challenges, and offers questions to consider.

Research, Lessons Learned

The Underserved Third

How Our Educational Structures Populate an Educational Underclass

This article was published in 2012 in the Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk, after the findings were released to the general public on December 12, 2011. The article asserts the importance of ultimately dismantling dichotomous notions of ‘‘career’’ and ‘‘college’’ preparation, to expand opportunities for underserved students, and reduce inequities by preparing all students for both college and career.

Research, Career-Technical Education, Equity

A Model for Success

CART’s Linked Learning Program Increases College Enrollment

When rigorous academics are combined with demanding career-based learning in real-world professional workplaces, students are better prepared to succeed in college, career and life. Embracing the Linked Learning model, the Center for Advanced Research and Technology—a high school in Clovis, California—released data that demonstrates how combining rigorous academics and real-world learning opportunities can lead to a higher percentage of enrollments in both community college and four-year universities. In particular, the study finds that attendance in a Linked Learning pathway more than doubled the rate of college entrance for minority students.

Research, Outcomes, Rigorous Academics, Work-Based Learning

In this brief, Erik Rice identifies three strategic practices schools, districts, and communities can use to help prepare students for college and career success.

Research, Lessons Learned

Pathways to Prosperity

Meeting the Challenge of Preparing Young Americans for the 21st Century

This report finds that the U.S. strategy for education and youth development in previous decades has been too narrowly focused on an academic, classroom-based approach, and that this has produced only incremental gains in achievement and attainment. In response, the report advances a vision for how the United States might regain the leadership in educational attainment it held for over a century, advocating for the development of a comprehensive pathways network to serve youth in high school and beyond.

Research, Policy

Design Thinking

A Process for Developing and Implementing Lasting District Reform

Traditionally, challenges such as how to sustain district reform, how to build a leadership pipeline, how to create an integrated project, or how to best intervene with struggling students would be resolved with a team of “experts” developing a solution in isolation of the stakeholders involved. By contrast, design thinking centers on the knowledge and experiences of those on the front lines—in the same spirit as student-centered learning, differentiation, and other user-centered approaches in education.

Rice suggests that to best impact systemic challenges, design thinking should be practiced as part of an aligned set of focused priorities across schools and districts. To nurture a culture of innovation, district leadership should thoughtfully integrate design thinking into already existing appropriate structures including strategic planning forums, curriculum development sessions, and teacher and principal leadership development.

Research, Lessons Learned