Linked Learning integrates real-world professions with rigorous academics, transforming education into a personally relevant, wholly engaging experience — and opening students to career and college opportunities they never imagined.
Far too many young people, especially those in low-income households, never achieve their potential to participate fully in the workforce and community life. Almost a third of California ninth-graders drop out before graduation. Many who do graduate lack the knowledge and skills needed for postsecondary education or high-wage employment.
See how students, parents and educators describe Linked Learning:
Four Elements Define Linked Learning
Linked Learning builds on more than four decades of experience gained by California schools that combine academic and technical content to generate high student achievement. It combines four elements that research identifies as vital to student success:
Challenging academics: A rigorous academic core curriculum featuring instruction in essential subjects such as English, math, science, social studies, foreign language and visual and performing arts.
Technical skills and knowledge: A demanding combination of career and technical coursework emphasizing the practical use of academic learning and preparing youth for high-skill, high-wage employment.
Work-based learning: A range of opportunities to learn through meaningful real-world experiences, including internships, apprenticeships and school-based enterprises.
Support services: Academic and social supports, such as counseling and additional instruction in reading, writing and mathematics, with the goal of helping all students succeed in and outside school.
Young People Choose Their Own Pathways to Success
Linked Learning is powerful because it is relevant, guided by student interests and workforce opportunities. The four elements of this approach are delivered through career pathways, comprehensive programs of study that connect learning in the classroom with real-world applications outside of school. Students select a pathway of their choice.
Pathways are designed to match the needs of 15 major industries in California, ranging from engineering to health sciences to digital media arts.
Connections Create Relevance — and Results
Evaluation shows that Linked Learning contributes to higher academic achievement, improved attendance and graduation rates in both high school and college, and greater lifetime income.
These achievements are possible because Linked Learning works in a comprehensive way. It improves the systems that serve youth, helping them graduate from high school ready to enter college or other training, succeed at the postsecondary level, and reconnect if they are out of school and want to earn a degree or credential.
Linked Learning also engages employers in education, so California schools produce graduates ready for high-skill, high-wage employment. Administrators, teachers, parents and community leaders across the state are embracing this approach as the means to reform and improve equity in education.
Linked Learning Meets Youth Where They Are
More than 3 million California youth do not hold a postsecondary credential. About half are in high school or college, and the rest have disconnected from formal education. Linked Learning elements are applied in different venues and stages of youth development to improve achievement and increase opportunities. Linked Learning works: