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.
This brief describes the successes and challenges school districts have experienced in fostering access and equity in Linked Learning pathways, examining five groups of students frequently underserved by traditional schools. Findings are drawn from an SRI Education evaluation in nine California school districts over seven years. The report also includes information on promising strategies enacted by the districts today.
SRI’s seventh annual evaluation report on the progress of the California Linked Learning District Initiative differs from previous evaluation reports in that it is designed to be comprehensive and summative, rather than focusing on new developments in the initiative or policy context. With 2013–14 marking the final year of funding for the initiative, this report provides updated findings on student engagement and achievement outcomes, including initial enrollment and persistence in postsecondary education. In addition, this report provides final lessons learned from the experiences of the initiative districts; their successes and challenges with Linked Learning systems implementation over the past 7 years; and their plans for expanding and sustaining Linked Learning while maintaining pathway quality and fidelity to the Linked Learning approach.
Full realization of the Linked Learning approach requires the support of a coherent set of school district human resource and student enrollment policies as well as infrastructure for work-based learning placements. Leaders in the nine demonstration districts identified the key district-specific implementation strategies below as crucial to establishing and sustaining Linked Learning.
This sixth-year evaluation of the California Linked Learning District Initiative offers findings on student high school graduation and college eligibility. It also examines districts’ progress in expanding pathway access and ensuring equity, looking at patterns in student enrollment and persistence in pathways. Finally, it explores the influence of regional expansion efforts on districts’ progress in developing work-based learning systems, their relationships with postsecondary institutions, and their plans for expanding and sustaining Linked Learning while maintaining pathway quality and fidelity. Lessons gained from the experiences of the nine initiative districts are highly instructive for new regional collaborations that are just beginning to engage with or scale up Linked Learning.
SRI’s evaluation of the California Community College Linked Learning Initiative (CCCLLI) addressed implementation issues and institutional and student outcomes work by three community colleges and partnering K–12 districts to use the Linked Learning approach (e.g., transitional support strategies, align high school and college career pathway programs of study, enhance student support services) to improve college transitions and success. Each college created pathways in different industry sectors and built on its own programmatic strengths.
By combining academic and technical instruction, Linked Learning has proven to be a powerful approach to education—creating a relevant and engaging learning environment and, most importantly, preparing students with the range of 21st Century skills needed for success in college and career.
Despite the known benefits of Linked Learning, negative perceptions about career and technical education still exist. Shifting to this new paradigm requires more than redesigning school structures to incorporate Linked Learning pathways and legislating policies that provide needed resources. It also requires societal shifts in attitudes and beliefs.
This brief offers recommendations for classroom practices that will enable the effective integration of core academic and career technical subjects that can truly prepare students for college and career.
Developing principals’ knowledge and capacity to lead high-quality programs is critical to the long-term success of Linked Learning. However, it can be a challenge for district leaders to determine how to provide resources to support principal learning.
This brief identifies five lessons for district leaders that are drawn from a series of Linked Learning principal meetings that occurred within one district. The authors show how particular features of the meetings contributed to principals’ learning and afforded opportunities for the district to act strategically to better assist their principals.
This brief is part of SCOPE's Professional Learning for Linked Learning Series.