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Evaluation of the California Linked Learning District Initiative
SRI is examining the impact of a program that combines strong academics with real-world experience. Its goal: help students build a foundation for success in college, careers—and life.
By any measure, both California and the nation are failing to prepare too many young people, especially those from low-income households, for education, work, and civic life in the 21st century. One-fifth of California students do not graduate from high school. Of those who do, many lack the knowledge and skills to succeed in postsecondary education or attain high-wage employment.
Linked Learning prepares students for success in postsecondary education and careers by connecting classroom learning with real-world experiences. Each Linked Learning pathway is organized around one of California’s 15 major industries. The California Linked Learning District Initiative, funded by the James Irvine Foundation and led by ConnectEd, supports selected California school districts in implementing Linked Learning in all their high schools.
Currently in its seventh year, SRI’s evaluation of the Linked Learning District Initiative involves nine unified school districts awarded implementation grants by ConnectEd: Antioch, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Montebello, Oakland, Pasadena, Porterville, Sacramento City, and West Contra Costa.
SRI is documenting the implementation and sustainability of district-wide systems of Linked Learning pathways capturing the voice and perceptions of students in Linked Learning pathways, and assessing the effect of pathway enrollment on students’ high school outcomes, e.g., attendance, grade progression, credit accumulation, completion of college preparatory coursework, achievement on state assessments, and high school graduation. SRI also is examining the effects of Linked Learning on the earliest cohorts of Linked Learning graduates as they transition to postsecondary education and careers.
The qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis encompass interviews, student focus groups, surveys of high school students and Linked Learning graduates, document collection, and analyses of student high school and postsecondary data to compare outcomes for pathway students with those of nonparticipating peers. Evaluation products include formative memos to the James Irvine Foundation and the initiative districts as well as evaluation reports, research briefs, webinars, and conference presentations.
Related reports and publications appear at right.