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Linked Learning Study Shows Narrowing of Achievement Gap

A new report shows promise for high school programs called Linked Learning. Five San Diego County school districts are among 63 districts across the state slated for state grant money to strengthen programs that follow this model next fall.

Aired 3/22/13 on KPBS News.

Case studies document academic gains in high schools where learning is linked to careers.

Case studies from The Education Trust-West found high schools with these programs, which link classroom lessons to real-world work experience, increased the number of students completing the courses necessary to be eligible to apply to California State University and University of California campuses and improved graduation rates.

Those successes may come from the fact that that the rigorous classes relate to specific career path and real-world problem solving, according to Jeanette LaFors, one of the study's co-authors.

“Students are just finding them simply more engaging and more exciting and more motivating a learning environment and that they are connecting academic knowledge with something that’s applied,” she said.

Gains were pronounced for low-income, African-American and Latino students, groups that graduate and complete CSU and UC pre-requites at lower rates. Those are gains that could be life changing, said Tameka McGlown, another study co-author.

"Students themselves have greater opportunities for a successful life and one that they should choose versus those circumstances they encounter and barriers they may face because they were under prepared for life after high school," she said.

High Schools in the San Diego, Carlsbad, Escondido, Oceanside and Grossmont School Districts are part of a consortium to strengthen such programs that is expected to receive state funding for piloting Linked Learning programs next year.

San Diego Unified had the state's first certified Linked Learning program, according to Shawn Loescher, director of college, career and technical education for the district.

He said the consortium is a structed way for the districts to share their experiences and best practices.

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