for policymakers

Everyone benefits when we connect the classroom and the real world. Linked Learning integrates academic courses and work-based learning in ways that provide pathways to college and career success. It’s a tested and effective means for educators, industry, and community organizations to join together to achieve better outcomes for young people and their families.

Linked Learning has been demonstrated at scale, and is effectively tailored to meet community-specific needs. It’s the preferred approach being implemented system-wide in many districts today—with support from educators and employers, students and families. Linked Learning transcends ideologies and garners bipartisan support in city halls and statehouses across the U.S.

Linked Learning advocates help their communities:

  • Align learning with skilled workforce needs in regional economies
  • Build and retain a pipeline of local talent
  • Develop young people with the interests and abilities to fully participate in civic and economic life

Linked Learning is based on four core elements that can be adapted by a range of public and private school models.

A standard for excellence and equity

Linked Learning works for all kids. And the positive outcomes are amplified for students with low prior achievement entering ninth grade, for African American students, and for English learners.


Rigorous, independent evaluation of nine school districts applying Linked Learning over multiple years shows that Linked Learning students:

  • Are less likely to drop out and more likely to graduate
  • Earn more credits by the end of high school
  • Build the mindsets and skills to thrive


Linked Learning is delivered through career-themed pathways tuned to local industry. Schools can organize around a single pathway or incorporate several pathways within their structure. The approach can span entire districts.

Successfully demonstrated in California beginning in 2009, Linked Learning now is serving hundreds of thousands of students across the U.S.

Certification helps ensure Linked Learning is implemented with high quality. Students benefit from—and take pride in—pathways that are recognized with Gold Certification.

Linked Learning Gold Pathway

Our goal: One million young people in Gold certified Linked Learning pathways by 2030.

Linked Learning in the News

How is Linked Learning different?

Research and experience show that real educational solutions exist in the “and.” When we combine college and career preparation, we put every student in position to pursue the full range of postsecondary options, whether trade school, college, or other credentialing programs.

Historically, most U.S. students have faced an “or.” At some point in their high school experience they were deemed to be college material, or not. Each young person was typically encouraged to study for college or train for a trade.

When college-entry coursework is separated from career technical education, the limits of each model are exposed. But when integrated, college and career preparation reinforce each other, creating a much stronger equation with real benefits to students, communities, and regional economies. That’s the power of plus—and the driving principle behind Linked Learning.

“We are demonstrating the impact that high-quality career pathways can have on young people, civic vitality, and economy. If [you have] a stake in the future of the city, it’s time to get involved in Linked Learning.”
Libby Schaaf, City of Oakland Mayor and Kyla Johnson-Trammell, Oakland Unified School District Superintendent

A renaissance in oakland

See why Oakland is deeply and systematically embedding Linked Learning as a means for community transformation.

Ways to Get Involved

Supporting Linked Learning allows educators to empower more students to find their own direction. Because the Linked Learning approach breaks down the barriers that separate classroom learning from the real world, it empowers whole communities, states, and the country at large to succeed—and flourish.

Policymakers can advance the practice and benefits of Linked Learning by:

  • Aligning systems of accountability with Linked Learning Certification standards of excellence
  • Expanding opportunities for high school students to earn college credits
  • Removing barriers that impede student transitions between high school and higher education
  • Creating incentives for collaboration between education and industry
  • Supporting schools as they integrate and deliver Linked Learning elements with high quality

Let's Talk

Contact Roneeta Guha, Vice President, Strategy and Impact, to learn more about Linked Learning research and implications for state, local, and national policies that advance outcomes for young people, industry, and communities through Linked Learning.