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Exploring Linked Learning Alumni Trajectories

LL trajectories coverExploring the Educational, Labor Market, and Civic Trajectories of Young Adults who Attended Linked Learning Pathways:
Survey and Interview Findings

Marisa Saunders and John Rogers, UCLA IDEA

Veronica Terriquez, USC

June 2013

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Through an approach to schooling called Linked Learning, many high schools throughout California are seeking to stem the tide of dropouts and a lack of college and career preparedness among graduates. Linked Learning gives all students access to the experiences and conditions they need to grow as learners and be prepared for college, career, and civic life. To achieve this goal, Linked Learning brings together rigorous academics, a challenging theme-based or career-based curriculum, and an opportunity to apply learning through real-world experiences.

This study explores the postsecondary educational attainment, employment, and civic engagement of graduates of select Linked Learning sites. Juxtaposing analyses from three data sources, we find that, on average, students who attend Linked Learning high schools graduate at higher rates than students statewide. This is remarkable in itself, but even more so given that Linked Learning schools enroll greater numbers of students from groups at risk of not graduating. Moreover, Linked Learning alumni are more likely to attend a postsecondary institution (two-year or four-year) versus not attend college at all compared to the random sample. However, we also found that attending a Linked Learning school does not increase the likelihood of employment for recent graduates or protect some of them from becoming disconnected altogether (i.e., neither in school nor working). Neither did attending a Linked Learning school increase the chances that recent graduates would become engaged in their communities.

Participating Linked Learning sites were identified as part of a 2008 study conducted by UCLA IDEA that examined the challenges and the effective practices, strategies, and structures utilized by schools committed to the implementation of the approach. This study compares recent alumni from participating sites with a representative sample of young adults across California. The primary goals of the study were to understand how pathways shape participants’ postsecondary enrollment and degree attainment, employment, and civic engagement trajectories.


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