A number of exciting recent developments indicate how Linked Learning is growing and gaining support:
The Linked Learning Pilot Program, passed by California legislators through Assembly Bill 790, involves 63 school districts and county offices of education throughout the state. Together, these agencies serve approximately 600,000 high school students, about one-third of the state’s high school population. This pilot sets the stage for steady expansion and demonstration of Linked Learning as a viable approach that can benefit all California youth.
Legislative support is reinforced by the 2013–2014 California state budget, which establishes the $250 million California Career Pathways Trust to fund work-based learning — a critical element of the Linked Learning approach — and other career pathways.
Last fall, the Linked Learning Fall Showcase generated new commitments from business leaders to work with local schools to get involved in providing work-based learning opportunities for high school students in Linked Learning pathways (read a News & Insights post about the event by Jennifer Ortega, California State Director of America’s Edge).
We can celebrate these achievements and others like them for one reason: The Linked Learning approach is working for California students. In fact, new findings from a four-year evaluation of the Linked Learning District Initiative show that, when compared to their peers, students who participate in certified pathways are:
These findings are statistically significant and represent continued forward progress for the growing Linked Learning field. They are available, along with other results and lessons learned, in an executive summary, research brief and full report by independent evaluator SRI International. And our interactive Linked Learning in Motion infographic has been newly updated to include these findings. Also available are revised tools from the Linked Learning Alliance that can be used by anyone working to advance Linked Learning in California.
There is much to celebrate, and the effort of so many practitioners and partners is paying off. Yet we all know that there is work to be done: For example, evaluation also indicates we must do better in providing all students equitable access to Linked Learning pathways as well as high-quality opportunities for work-based learning. We are focusing on these issues, as well as on making certified pathways available to a majority of students in districts where Linked Learning is in use.
Irvine remains committed to working with all players to improve the practice of Linked Learning and ensure that its available to an even greater number of California students. We welcome your comments, and appreciate your interest in Linked Learning as a vehicle that can benefit youth and communities throughout California.