Linked Learning & Career Technical Education (CTE)

Linked Learning transforms the high school experience by bringing together strong academics, demanding technical education, and real-world experience to help students gain an advantage in high school, postsecondary education, and careers.

In the Linked Learning approach, students follow industry-themed pathways in a wide range of fields such as engineering, arts and media, biomedicine and health. The term "pathway" is a common term in education and in the Linked Learning context is defined as a multiyear, comprehensive high school program of integrated academic and career technical study that is organized around a broad theme, interest area, or industry sector.

Pathways connect learning with students' interests and career aspirations, preparing them for the full range of post-graduation options including two- and four-year colleges and universities, apprenticeships, formal employment training, and military service.

Used in schools throughout California, this integrated approach has been shown to lead to higher graduation rates, increased postsecondary enrollments, higher earning potential, and greater civic engagement.

An effective linked learning program contains all of the following essential components:

  1. Challenging academic component that prepares students for success in higher education as well as in apprenticeships and other postsecondary programs.
  2. Technical component that delivers concrete knowledge and skills through technical courses while emphasizing the practical application of academic learning and preparing students for high-skill, high wage employment.
  3. A work-based learning component that offers opportunities to learn through real-world experiences. Students gain access to internships, virtual apprenticeships, and school-based enterprises.
  4. Support services that include counseling and supplemental instruction in reading, writing and mathematics that help students master the advanced academic and technical content necessary for success in college and career.

PTA Position on Issue

California State PTA has long supported career education and linked learning programs in the belief that these programs increase student engagement leading to higher levels of student success and reduced dropout rates. Here are some of our relevant authorities on this topic:

Position Statement 4.5.69: School-to-Career Technical Education

"California State PTA believes in equal access to education that prepares students to meet the needs of a highly skilled, high technology workplace. A broad-based School-to-Career Technical Education program prepares all students for lifelong learning and successful transition to career and advanced education.

The California State PTA believes students need academically rigorous instructional programs that will enable them to think critically, to formulate and solve problems, and to work in teams. Students need opportunities to apply their academic and technical skills to the world of work…"

Position Statement 4.5.24: Education- The High School Years, Ages 14-18

"…Students should leave high school with a body of knowledge that opens the door to continued education, the world of work and lifelong learning. We must prevent students from dropping out of school. High schools must offer the most comprehensive and diversified education possible…"

2001 Convention Resolution: School-to-Career For All Students

2005 Convention Resolution: Education-A 21st Century Vision

Key Resources

Communicator Article: "Linked Learning and Multiple Pathways: Aligning college prep and Career Technical Education (formerly "vocational education") in an academically rigorous curriculum"

Multiple Pathways to Student Success Report:

On September 30, 2008, Governor Schwarzenegger signed AB 2648, which adds Section 52372.5 to the Education Code. This bill requires that the Superintendent of Public Instruction develop, in conjunction with a number of specified entities, a report that explores the feasibility of establishing and expanding additional multiple pathway programs in California. Multiple pathway programs created for high schools may include, but are not limited to, California partnership academies, regional occupational centers and programs, charter schools, academies, small learning communities, and other career-themed small schools. Click here to read the
Executive Summary of the Report:

"Can California Compete: Reducing the Skills Gap and Creating a Skilled Workforce through Linked Learning"

"Unlocking Doors and Expanding Opportunity: Moving Beyond the Limiting Reality of College and Career Readiness in California High Schools"

"Career Practicum: A Work-Based Learning Strategy"

"Making STEM Real: By infusing core academics with rigorous real-world work, Linked Learning pathways prepare students for both college and career"

"Profile of The California Partnership Academies 2009-10"

Sources for additional information:

California State PTA is a member of the Linked Learning Alliance

ConnectEd provides technical assistance and funding to a number of school districts to implement linked learning programs: or to go directly to their resources page: