Innovative learning approach could boost enrollment, retention

Linked Learning is taking California by storm, ensuring high school grads enroll—and thrive—in college

linked-learning-collegeOne school district has college enrollment rates that are eight percent higher than their peers, with a persistence rate that is 24 points higher; another high school saw 93 percent of its graduates still enrolled in college after their freshman year.

Statistics like this are becoming increasingly common in a handful of California schools and districts that are implementing a postsecondary education-focused method called Linked Learning—a high school redesign that “transforms the traditional high school experience by integrating rigorous academics with real-world technical skills, workplace experiences, and wraparound support services for students.”

This method of learning is so successful that California has introduced legislation targeted to its support, and even the Obama Administration is looking into scalable development of local best practices.

Linked Learning could help stem the “leaky education pipeline that spans from cradle to career,” ultimately boosting college and university enrollment and improving retention rates, says the Alliance for Excellent Education (AEE), and publisher of the brief, “Beyond High School: Efforts to Improve Postsecondary Transitions through Linked Learning.”

Nationally, “of the 80 percent of students who graduated from high school on time in 2012, only 66 percent enrolled in a two-or four-year program the following fall,” notes AEE. “On average, only 31 percent of students at a two-year institution earn a degree or certificate in three year, while only 59 percent of students at a four-year institution finish in six years.”

The key to boosting postsecondary enrollment and ensuring retention, say instructors behind the Linked Learning approach, lies in four elements based in research.

(Next page: 4 elements of Linked Learning; measurable results)