WWC review of this study

Taking stock of the California Linked Learning District Initiative. Sixth-year evaluation report.

Warner, M., Caspary, K., Arshan, N., Stites, R., Padilla, C., Park, C., ...Adelman, N. (2015). Menlo Park, CA: SRI International.

  • Quasi-Experimental Design
     examining 
    13,653
     Students
    , grades
    9-10

Reviewed: September 2017

At least one finding shows moderate evidence of effectiveness
At least one statistically significant positive finding
Meets WWC standards with reservations
Graduating school outcomes—Statistically significant positive effect found for the domain
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
Evidence
tier

High school graduation rate

Dropout Prevention vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Full sample of Linked Learning students;
13,653 students

N/A

N/A

Yes

 
 
6
 
Staying in School outcomes—Statistically significant positive effect found for the domain
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
Evidence
tier

Did not drop out (%)

Dropout Prevention vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Full sample of Linked Learning students;
14,304 students

N/A

N/A

Yes

 
 
7
 


Evidence Tier rating based solely on this study. This intervention may achieve a higher tier when combined with the full body of evidence.

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.


  • 21% English language learners

  • Female: 50%

  • Suburban, Urban
    • B
    • A
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    California
  • Race
    Asian
    14%
    Black
    15%
    White
    13%
  • Ethnicity
    Hispanic    
    58%
    Not Hispanic or Latino    
    42%

Setting

The study took place in high schools in nine school districts in California: Antioch, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Montebello, Oakland, Pasadena, Porterville, Sacramento City, and West Contra Costa. These districts range in size from around 14,000 to 640,000 students and represent a wide variety of geographic regions in California. Outcomes were measured for students in the class of 2013 (in 4 districts) and 2014 (in 9 districts).

Study sample

Just under half of students in the sample were female. 78.7% of students were considered to be low SES based on their parents' educational attainment and their participation in the National School Lunch Program. Over half of students were Latino, just under 15% were African American, and just over 12% were White. Nearly one-quarter of students were classified as having low prior academic achievement based on their score on the English Language Arts California Standards Test. Over 20% of students were classified as English Language Learners.

Intervention Group

Linked Learning career pathways consist of comprehensive programs of study that combine classroom learning with real-world application outside of school. The Linked Learning approach has four main components: 1) rigorous academics, 2) career-technical education, 3) work-based learning, and 4) comprehensive support services. Pathways focus on a variety of topics, such as media and communications, business and tourism, and computer science. As of November 2015, there were 40 certified pathways offered in the nine districts included in the study. Students could enroll in a pathway beginning in 9th or 10th grade (depending on the district) and continue their enrollment until the end of high school. To become a Linked Learning career pathway, a program had to be certified by one of two organizations, ConnectEd or the National Academy Foundation (NAF). The present study also examines the effects of non-certified career pathways. These programs typically share some characteristics with Linked Learning pathways, such as their focus on a career theme, but they vary in their fidelity to the Linked Learning approach.

Comparison Group

The comparison condition consisted of students in traditional high school programs (i.e., those who were not enrolled in a certified or non-certified career pathway).

Support for implementation

Most school districts hired dedicated work-based learning staff and internal coaches to build and sustain strong industry connections between the community and the district, and to develop high-quality work-based learning structures within schools. ConnectEd, NAF, and a handful of other regional consortiums provided technical assistance for these work-based programs and helped train work-based staff. However, the study does not provide additional details on the staff training necessary to implement the intervention.

 

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This download will include data files for study and findings review data and a data dictionary.

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