Research and Reports

This page houses research reports, research summaries, policy and advocacy documents, and current perspectives that address the college and career readiness framework that guides curriculum, instruction and assessment in Linked Learning programs.  Contents include evidence of Linked Learning’s impact in schools, studies in the foundations of Linked Learning, reports on promising practices in Linked Learning educator preparation and more.

Practice Brief: Building Capacity for Linked Learning Pathways: A Guide for School Counselor Educators

Jake Olsen
California State University Long Beach

This practice brief is intended to be a practical tool and resource for school counselor educators interested in integrating principles and practices of the Linked Learning approach into graduate level school counselor preparation programs. In addition, the conceptual framework for aligning comprehensive school counseling programs (CSCPs) with the Linked Learning approach has implications for practicing school counselors. The lessons learned, core features, capacity building, curriculum integration, research partnerships, and needs included in this practice brief were drawn from a thorough review of the literature, informal interviews, and faculty participation in professional development.

Access & Equity in Linked Learning: A Report on Path Access
and Academic Outcomes for Traditionally Underserved Students

Kyra Caspary
Miya T. Warner
SRI International
January 2017

This brief describes the success and challenges the districts have experienced in fostering access and equity in Linked Learning pathways, examining five groups of students frequently underserved by traditional schools: students with low prior achievement, English learners, African-American students, Latino students, and female students.  Throughout the evaluation and in this brief, we focus on data for these "subgroups" of the total student population.  We acknowledge that both access and equity are complex constructs that can be defined in many different ways.  For the purposes of this brief, we operationalize access and equity as follows: to evaluate access, we examined districts' choice and recruitment policies and assessed the degree to which pathways were representative of their districts' high school student populations; to evaluate equity, we compared academic outcomes for Linked Learning student subgroups with those of similar peers in traditional high school settings.

Taking Stock of the California Linked Learning District Initiative Seventh-Year Evaluation Report

Miya Warner
Kyra Caspary
Nicole Arshan
Regie Stites
Christine Padilla
Deepa Patel
Matt McCracken
Erin Harless
C.J. Park
Laila Fahimuddin
Nancy Adelman
SRI International
Prepared for the James Irvine Foundation
November 2016

In 2009, the James Irvine Foundation launched the California Linked Learning District Initiative ("the initiative") to demonstrate this approach in nine school districts.  The mulit-year evaluation of this large initiative has a twofold purpose: to document the work and distill lessons from districts that are applying Linked Learning systemically and to measure the effect of this comprehensive implementation on student outcomes.

What it Takes to Create Linked Learning: A Report on Lessons Learned from Evaluating the Approach in Practice

Kyra Caspary
Miya T. Warner
SRI Internation
October 2016

Linked Learning is an approach for transforming high schools to prepare all students for college, career, and life.  It works through career-themed pathways that integrate college preparatory academics, rigorous technical training, work-based learning, and supports to help students stay on track.  With support from the James Irvine Foundation, SRI International has evaluated this approach at work in nine school districts across California over the course of seven years.  The evaluation has surfaced a set of strategies that promote successful implementation of Linked Learning by both school districts and individual pathways.

Handbook for Linked Learning Clinical Teacher Preparation

Marquita Grenot-Scheyer
Jared R. Stallones
California State University Long Beach
January 2016

This Handbook is the collective work of many dedicated people who have been in the forefront of Linked Learning implementation in the schools and its articulation with higher education.  It serves as a guide for schools and universities who seek to collaborate on Linked Learning projects by preparing both pre-service and in-service teachers for work in Linked Learning settings, those seeking to develop deeper school-university partnerships, and those blending Linked Learning and the new state standards.

Expanding Access, Creating Options: How Linked Learning Pathways Can Mitigate Barriers to College and Career Access in Schools and Districts

The Education Trust-West
March 2013

This study, conducted over two years, highlights the connection between quality implementation of Linked Learning and equity and college and career access. The key findings in this report reinforce the need for consistency in the non-negotiable elements of Linked Learning as districts strive to take this approach to scale.

Linked Learning Dissertations

Several CSU Ed.D. have schools that integrates academics with career-based learning and Linked Learning reforms.  In these studies, significant effects were demonstrated on the high school experiences of African American youth in Long Beach, on urban youth in four high schools in the San Francisco East Bay region, on reforms in counseling and related effects on counseling services and post-secondary plans of students, and on high school opportunities and outcomes among special needs students.

The dissertations include the following:

Latinos in Linked Learning and California Partnership Academies: Sources of Self-Efficacy and Social Capital

Daniel Ledesma
Fresno State University
December 2016

This purpose of this mixed-methods study was to describe the social relationships and career experiences of Latino students who were enrolled in Linked Learning or Career Partnership Academies (CPA) by investigating sources of support such as the role of teacher and parents on career development and examining how internships and participation influenced their self-efficacy.  The study found that sources of social capital and self-efficacy vary depending on the location of the program and the selection of the career academy. 

Latina/o English Language Learner Student Experiences and Opportunities in Linked Learning Environments

Yvette Habrun
California State University Long Beach
December 2016

The purpose of this qualitative study is to explore the lived experiences of English language learner Latina/o high school students in a Linked Learning pathway in Southern California.  The findings from this case study indicated Latina/o ELLs felt supported despite barriers experienced with English comprehension early on in high school.  Students and staff members echoed the sentiment of a familiar environment between staff and students, and students felt their participation in Linked Learning had assisted them in being prepared for postsecondary options for college and career opportunities.

A Case Study of Common Core Implementation in a Linked Learning Environment

Erin Broun Biolchino
California State University Long Beach
May 2016

The purpose of this case study is to examine the intersection between Linked Learning and the Common Core State Standards.  The SRI fifth-year report sheds light on the need for Linked Learning districts and schools to carefully design their professional development for teachers so that a cohesive message that integrates both Linked Learning and Common Core is communicated.

Equity and Impact of Linked Learning for Students with Disabilities: An Investigation of Implementation Fidelity

Jocelyn D. Hively
Fresno State University
May 2016

The purpose of this study was to understand the impact of Linked Learning education reform on transition implementation fidelity and on students' non-academic outcomes.  The researcher compared the transition implementation fidelity of special education teachers working in Linked Learning high schools with that of their counterparts in Non-Linked Learning high schools.  Findings suggest a positive impact of Linked Learning in specific areas such as self-determination training and work experiences for students as well as professional development for special education teachers. 

Linked Learning as a High School Transformation Strategy: Organizational Structures and Leadership Behaviors That Support Lasting Change

Elizabeth Rocio Weiss
San Diego State University
November 2015

The purpose of the study was to identify the leadership actions district leaders took to initiate and sustain a high school reform agenda that included a specific focus on preparing students for college and 21st century careers. Findings revealed that a large-scale high school reform initiative, such as the systemic implementation of Linked Learning as a strategy for change, is successful when district leaders, through the practice of transformational leadership, create the conditions for school leaders and teachers to transform the way high school students experience learning.

Examining Students with Disabilities in a Linked Learning Pathway

Renee L. Polk
California State University Dominguez Hills
August 2015

This study focused on examining the test scores of students with disabilities in Linked Learning Pathways to see whether participating in an academic sequence combined with career technical education leads to better college preparedness.  This research found limited but promising evidence that Linked Learning students with disabilities outperformed their peers with disabilities who are not enrolled in Linked Learning on the CAHSEE exam.

A Comparative Study of the Impact of Linked Learning on Three Urban High Schools

Wendell Carlton Greer Jr.
California State University East Bay
June 2015

This study examines the impact of Linked Learning's Pathways on the three variables:

a) student engagement; b) school success; and c) academic achievement of students in the three comprehensive high schools in an urban school district in the Bay Area.  This study found evidence that pathways may be more likely to engage students so that they are motivated to remain in school.

The Linked Leader: Principal Perception of Leadership in Linked Learning Pathways

Chandalee Wood
California State University Long Beach
May 2015

This study attempted to inform school districts, current and future LLP principals, and community partners of the perceptions of current high school principals' on school site leadership roles, responsibilities, and the impact of implementing and sustaining LLP on their leadership approach.  While approaching the transformation and sustainability through this lens, the principals indicated three main roles critical to CLLP success: community-bridge, risk-taker, and supporter.

Perspectives of Career and Technical Education Pathways and Linked Learning Outcomes for High School Graduates

Brian Thomas Josten
San Diego State University
April 2015

The specific objective of this research was to determine student perceptions of how core academic programs that are linked with core academic curriculum and real world experiences such as Linked Learning contributed to engagement in high school and readiness for postsecondary life.  The research found that students enroll in a Career and Technical Education (CTE) pathway were more prepare for a potential career than for any social reasons.  Additionally, CTE pathways helped student engagement and comprehension of other core academic subjects, such as English and mathematics.

Reforming Teacher Preparation for Twenty-First Century Students: A Mixed Methods Study

Sheila Maureen Krotz
San Diego State University
March 2015

The question that guided this research is whether or not preservice teachers who obtain a credential through the Linked Learning Lens Single Subject Credential Program are better prepared to meet the needs of the twenty-first century student.  Findings showed that preservice teachers candidates prepared in Linked Learning Lens Credential Program appear to have the skills and knowledge to teach in a Linked Learning environment, and they are also better prepared to bring twenty-first century skills into their classrooms, preparing students for the world of college and career.

Linked Learning and African American Student Engagement: A Case Study

Felicia Anderson
California State University Long Beach
May 2014

In her dissertation Dr. Anderson studied the impact of Linked Learning pathways on African American students’ level of engagement in school.  This study found five themes which weaved a picture of a supportive environment that promotes greater student satisfaction and enhances engagement.

The Role of Counselor in a Linked Learning Environment

Roberta Clarke
California State University Long Beach
May 2014

In her dissertation Dr. Clarke studied the role of the school counselor in Linked Learning pathways.  This interview study found that counselors in a Linked Learning environment hold and collectively maintain a culture of high expectations and support for all students by serving as advocates, utilizing school guidance curriculum, and providing direct services.

How Choice Model Affects Teacher Collaboration within the Linked Learning College Readiness Initiative

Anne Shin
California State University East Bay
June 2013

The purpose of this study is to understand the impact of choice participation as it is related to teacher collaboration within the Linked Learning College Readiness Reform Initiative.  The results show that the factors of personal benefit, access to adequate information, and relationships layered with collegial influences, peer pressure, and political pressures were influences of their decision making.


Linked Learning: Evidence of Effectiveness