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Work-Based Learning Toolkit

Work-Based Learning

Work-Based Learning: Student Outcomes and Quality Criteria

In the Linked Learning approach, student learning outcomes are defined from graduation down through the grade levels and drive all learning experiences. As such, student learning outcomes drive all work-based learning.

As a primary Linked Learning instructional strategy, work-based learning can ensure that all students make progress toward specific learning outcomes. High quality, Linked Learning work-based learning experiences must be:

  • Driven by student outcomes rather than activities.
  • Designed according to quality criteria rather than driven by other factors such as schedule, availability of partners, and maximizing the numbers of students participating.
  • Targeted toward all students rather than some students.
  • Focused on college and career readiness rather than only career or job readiness.
  • Integrated into the pathway program of study, connected to classroom learning, and embedded in multi-disciplinary projects rather than in a separate and extra program or activity.
  • Sequenced and coordinated rather than ad hoc.
  • Supported by a team of academic and career-technical teachers rather than only by career-technical teachers.
  • Centered in a workplace or at school or supported by technology or a combination of these things rather than only located in a workplace.

Defining work-based learning in terms of student outcomes and quality criteria supports all of these changes in thinking and practice. Doing so further supports a shift away from treating work experience as an alternative for some students to embracing work-based learning as a viable and rigorous learning experience that all young people need to prepare for the future.

Work-based learning is an instructional strategy that is particularly well suited to supporting a specific subset of the college and career readiness outcomes desired for all students. These outcomes are supported by extensive research on college and career readiness and are aligned to the Learning and Teaching Framework developed by ConnectEd, Common Core State Standards, skills identified by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, California Career and Technical Education standards, National Academy Foundation Dimensions of College and Career Readiness, and the ConnectEd College and Career Readiness Framework. This alignment helps educators integrate work-based learning experiences into a Linked Learning context that supports a complete range of college and career readiness outcomes for all students.