Basic Definition

Linked Learning is a successful approach to education based on the idea that students work harder and dream bigger if their education is relevant to them. Linked Learning integrates rigorous academics that meet college-ready standards with sequenced, high-quality career-technical education, work-based learning, and supports to help students stay on track. For Linked Learning students, education is organized around industry-sector themes. The industry theme is woven into lessons taught by teachers who collaborate across subject areas with input from working professionals, and reinforced by work- based learning with real employers. This makes learning more like the real world of work, and helps students answer the questions, “Why do I need to know this?”

  • Linked Learning is helping to address California’s need to better prepare students to graduate from high school ready for college AND career.
  • Students engage in professional learning and skill-building through career-technical training in school and through work-based learning, such as job shadowing, apprenticeships, and internships.
  • With learning organized around a broad industry sector theme, students get exposure to a wide array of career options, and learn what professional and postsecondary training is needed to be successful in a career in that industry.
  • Research shows that, compared with their peers, students in certified Linked Learning pathways earn more credits in the first three years of high school, report greater confidence in their life and career skills, and say they are experiencing more rigorous and relevant instruction. The data also show students who had low achievement scores in earlier grades make significant progress when they participate in Linked Learning.
  • As a result of the mounting evidence of Linked Learning’s effectiveness, there has been exponential growth in recent years in the number of California school districts offering or planning to offer Linked Learning.
  • California’s employers need a better educated workforce to meet current and future demands. Right now, not enough students are graduating from high school, and those who do often lack the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in college and career.
  • Linked Learning pathways give students more exposure to California’s major industries, and a better understanding of the available jobs and career paths.
  • The Linked Learning approach invites employers to partner with schools to ensure that both the academic and professional learning in and outside of the classroom are preparing students to succeed in a career within the pathway’s field.
  • The Linked Learning approach is growing exponentially across the state, and districts have or are planning to add more high school pathways in California’s top 15 industry sectors. To support the growing number of students entering career-themed pathways, additional employers need to join current partners in offering work-based learning opportunities to student in their communities.
  • Employers can invest in the future of their workforce by providing students in Linked Learning pathways with high-quality work-based learning opportunities such as job shadows, apprenticeships, or internships.
  • In addition to offering opportunities directly to students, employers can also offer Linked Learning teachers externships and guidance. Educators teaching in pathways in your industry sector want to sharpen their understanding of the latest trends and innovations in your field so they can incorporate them into their lessons.

The Vision for the Future of Linked Learning

Linked Learning has the potential to achieve the best outcomes for our students and for our state’s economy. We seek to make Linked Learning a permanent, sustainable pillar of education across California, and beyond.

  • The Linked Learning movement is owned by the field, with many partners working together to expand and improve high-quality Linked Learning opportunities for students.
  • As a result of the mounting evidence of Linked Learning’s effectiveness, the State of California has committed approximately $2 billion to help schools and regions establish and expand Linked Learning pathways. This has resulted in exponential growth in the number of school districts across California that are offering or planning to offer Linked Learning. The field’s challenge now is to meet this rapidly expanding demand with systems that support, incentivize, and reward quality Linked Learning so that students get the maximum benefit and full preparation for college, career, and life.