Irvine Seeks Evidence of Linked Learning's Impact

For several years now, Linked Learning has been at the core of the James Irvine Foundation’s education work in its home state of California. Linked Learning is a career pathways program that combines a rigorous core curriculum, career-based learning that links academics to career knowledge, work-based learning that offers students real-world work experiences, and support services such as counseling and supplemental instruction.

Irvine values the use of student outcome data to demonstrate the impact of Linked Learning and drive improvements to the program. Recently, the funder awarded a $1 million grant to the Institute for Evidence Based Change (IBEC) for continued data support for Linked Learning schools across the Golden State. In addition, IBEC will provide data to research and program evaluation partners who are assessing the impact of Linked Learning under agreement with school districts that are using the program.

Past research indicates that Linked Learning participants earn more credits in the first three years of high school than their peers, report greater confidence in their career prospects, and are experiencing more rigorous and relevant academic instruction.

IBEC, based in Encinitas, CA, is a nonprofit that provides research, evaluation, and data consulting services to drive meaningful changes in education. The organization is a favorite grant recipient of Irvine, having received more than $3 million in grants over the past five years—much of the funding related to data support for Linked Learning.

With prior funding from Irvine, IEBC developed a suite of data solutions to support school districts using Linked Learning. Products include a web-based reporting tool that links student transcript and standardized test data with postsecondary education data from the National Student Clearinghouse in Virginia. Other products include web-based dashboards that report key Linked Learning metrics and a pathway certification tool to help districts submit data for career pathway certification. IEBC also provides a range of data-related services for Linked Learning districts.

Getting students college- and career-ready is a key goal for many school districts — both in and out of California. With Linked Learning, Irvine hopes not only to draw clear lines between K-12 academics and postsecondary and career success, but thanks to this new grant to IEBC, to ensure there is empirical evidence of how well its approach works.