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California's 'Linked Learning' Initiative Gets Influx of Funds

California's Linked Learning Initiative  is getting more than $7 million in new funding from private and public sources to support the high school career-preparation program, which grew last year from seven to 63 districts across the state.

The program, launched in 2006, aims to engage students through rigorous academics, work-based learning, real-world job experience, and personalized support. (For more, see School Network Readies Students for College and Career.)

The new funding, announced last week, includes $2 million from the state of California, $2.5 million from the James Irvine Foundation, and $3.3 million from California Community Colleges system. This money will provide $80,000 to 20 Linked Learning pilot sites to fund planning implementation and another $400,000 for pilot-wide activities. 

As career-technical education evolves, this innovative model is showing early success. An evaluation of the program found that students involved were more likely to acculumate credits and failed fewer courses than their peers who weren't involved in the intiatitive. Research has found students from all demographic profiles in the program have improved their persistance and graduation rates compared with students at traditional high schools.

California state Superintendent Tom Torlakson said in an email that the Linked Learning program provides a seamless path from school to careers.

"It's one way of giving students to the opportunity not only to acquire knowledge and skills, but to see why those knowledge and skills are relevant to the 'real world' they will encounter outside of the classroom," he said.

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