Presents student engagement and achievement outcomes from school districts participating in an initiative aimed at transforming education in California.

“[T]his report offers updated findings on student engagement and achievement outcomes from the nine districts participating in the [California Linked Learning District] initiative. Additionally, for the first time, our report takes an in-depth look at the issue of student equity and access to pathways through an analysis of student enrollment patterns across pathway career themes and of pathway retention among student subgroup populations. Finally, it assesses pathway students’ experiences with academic and technical curricula and work-based learning, their perceptions of the skills they are gaining as a result of their pathway experiences, and their plans for the future.

Lessons from the experiences of the nine initiative districts are highly instructive for those that are just beginning to engage with or scale up Linked Learning. As context for understanding students’ experiences in pathways and their outcomes, this report provides an update on the nine districts’ efforts to develop and improve systems and structures to support Linked Learning and their initial plans to use new funding sources and regional partnerships to sustain Linked Learning” (p.v).

(Abstractor: Author)

Major Findings & Recommendations

Key summary points include: • “Systemically speaking, curricular and instructional reform will continue to shift slowly, although some individual pathways may move farther ahead than others. Because academic and technical curricula and the quality of instructional practice continue to vary by pathway across and within the nine districts, [the authors] anticipate that pathway students’ content mastery, as measured by standardized tests, will also continue to vary across districts” (p.79). • “Given the perceived benefits that pathway students derive from their participation in work-based learning activities, it would seem prudent to ensure that all pathway students have access to the full continuum of work-based learning opportunities” (p.80). • “To achieve equitable representation of all students in pathways, districts have focused on expanding pathways options and improving communication and recruitment strategies regarding students’ high school options rather than changing district choice policies or transportation infrastructure” (p.80). • “Despite the assurances from students that their pathway teachers provide vital information about transitions from high school to college or career, [the authors] were also interested to hear this year that some students and teachers are concerned about students’ readiness for a college experience” (p.81). • “The lack of a clear, common definition of college and career readiness between secondary and postsecondary systems continues to pose a significant barrier to ensuring smooth postsecondary transitions. Stakeholders on both sides need to expand their understanding of what it means to be college ready” (p.81). • “Students in certified pathways are more likely to stay in their district than their peers, and they accumulate more credits, putting them on track to graduate on time from high school. They also are just as likely as their peers to be on track to complete a–g requirements at the end of 9th and 11th grades, and even more likely at the end of 10th grade” (p.82). • “Moving forward, Linked Learning funders, technical assistance providers, and the broader field will need to continue discussing this critical question of fidelity to the Linked Learning approach in terms of the essential elements of pathways and a district’s system of support for Linked Learning implementation” (p.83). (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)