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Linked Learning Research

**Stern, D. & Stearns, R. (2008). Evidence and challenges: Will Multiple Pathways improve students’ outcomes?  In J.Oakes & M. Saunders (Eds.), Beyond trackingMultiple pathways to collegecareer, and civic participation (pp.37-54).Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press. Available for purchase at

This chapter reviews existing research on Multiple Pathway/Linked Learning programs. While the authors note a lack of substantial evidence of positive effectives of Linked Learning on college enrollment or completion, they also describe several studies that have found positive results on high school student achievement and argue that blending academic work with career technical education (CTE) could make college an option for more students. Despite the potential benefits of Linked Learning, the authors argue that significant changes in policy and practice are necessary to overcome systemic and programmatic barriers such as traditional high school’s master schedule, teacher and course “departmentalization,” and differences in teacher credentialing procedures and accountability policies between CTE and traditional academic tracks. 

Kemple, J. & Willner, C. (2008, June). Career Academies: Long-term impacts on labor market outcomes, educational attainment, and transitions to adulthood. New York, NY: MDRC. Available at

This report discusses evaluation findings from a 15-year longitudinal random assignment study of the effects of a high school reform initiative, Career Academy, which is a key component of the Linked Learning model. A student survey, administered to a sample of students from nine schools 11 to 12 years after entering high school, asked about students' high school experience and transitions outcomes, particularly labor market participation, educational attainment, and family formation. The authors find that Career Academies produced positive gains in employment and earnings, particularly among white men, as well as positive results for family stability. However, the authors did not find an effect on education attainment, given that approximately half of the students in both the Career Academies and non-Career Academies earned postsecondary credentials. The authors conclude with policy suggestions around investments and implementation strategies for the Career Academy model.

Farr, B., Bradby, D., Hartry, A., Sipes, L., Hall, L., & Tasoff, S. (2009, May). Evaluation of the demonstration sites in the ConnectEd network. Berkeley, CA: MPR Associates. (Executive summary excerpt of complete document.) Available at evaluation.pdf

This executive summary describes the results of a study of the ConnectEd Network of Schools, a collection of 16 sites in California that operate a form of Linked Learning. Researchers found positive results on a number of school achievement indicators, such as higher first-attempt passing rates on CAHSEE (California’s high school exit exam) and higher California Standards Test (CST) scores for African American and Hispanic students. Additionally, students reported strong positive attitude and behavior outcomes, and both teachers and administrators indicated positive outcomes around collaboration on curriculum and instruction. While the authors found that the program structure across the sites varied substantially in key areas of implementation—including master schedule, course sequencing, graduation requirements, and budgets—the authors argue that the sites represent strong models of Linked Learning.

The Center for Advanced Research and Technology. (2011, January). A model for success: CART’s Linked Learning program increases college enrollment. Clovis, CA: Author. Available at 20report%20final.pdf

This article describes findings from an internal evaluation of the Linked Learning model at the Center for Advanced Research and Technology (CART), a high school in Clovis, California. CART students are provided rigorous academic coursework that is contextualized for their identified career path as well as training in the technical aspects of the career. The authors found that CART students matriculate to postsecondary institutions at a higher rate than matched demographically-similar students from area high schools, both within one year of high school graduation and over time. 

**This document is considered a priority reading.