Linking Learning to the 21st Century: Preparing All Students for College, Career, and Civic Participation

April 7, 2011

Many states are currently developing high school reforms labeled “Linked Learning” (formerly known as Multiple Pathways) built on the fundamental insight that career and technical education can be academically rigorous. Linked Learning policies also allow students to gravitate to schooling themes that are personally relevant, and they hold the potential to substantially improve secondary schooling. But if poorly designed or enacted, the reform will only maintain the same old vocational education programs or “alternative” schools, continuing discredited practices of ability tracking rather than transforming the comprehensive high school. This new brief provides recommendations, including proposed statutory language, that meets the criteria for designing and implementing effective Linked Learning curriculums. As the brief's authors suggest, such a genuine approach to Linked Learning will help to meet the learning needs of a diverse student population and respond to society’s need for a productive workforce and engaged citizenry.