Principles and Practices

Students at table collaborating

This page provides resources for educator preparation programs developing leaders for Linked Learning settings.  Also highlighted here are promising programs and practices that transform schools into places of learning with an academically challenging, relevant, and engaging curriculum

What Are Linked Learning Pathways?

Linked Learning is an innovative approach to high school reform that seeks to prepare students for both college and career by connecting learning in the classroom with real-world applications in the workplace. The Linked Learning approach includes the following four key elements:

  • A college-prep academic program that includes English, math, science, social studies, foreign language and visual and performing arts;
  • A focus on technical skills and knowledge that meets industry standards;
  • A work‐based-learning component that offers opportunities to learn through real‐world experiences;
  • Supplemental services, such as counseling and college and career guidance.

How Do Linked Learning Pathways Work?

These four fundamental characteristics listed above distinguish Linked Learning from other College and Career Readiness reforms and they change the focus of the traditional high school.  For instance, Linked Learning pathways emphasize educational equity by rewarding students’ abilities to learn and use their gained knowledge to solve real world problems.  Pathways improves all students’ access to high quality instructional experiences as teachers and administrators link with the community to provide resources for learning. Pathways are based on students’ choosing their course based on their own interests.  This choice gives students greater ownership in their own learning. 

How Do Linked Learning Pathways Improve Student Engagement?

Linked Learning improves student engagement by capitalizing on their native curiosity and directly linking classroom instruction to real world experience.  Teachers in Linked Learning pathways reach greater levels of collaboration than in traditional high schools as they plan multi-disciplinary projects for students and align instruction to meet student needs.  In turn, teachers work more closely with school counselors, site administrators, and the local community to provide students the supports they need for success in high school and beyond.