Costs of California Multiple Pathway Programs

David N. Plank
Stanford Graduate School of Education
David Stern
University of California, Berkeley
Ace Parsi
National Center for Learning Disabilities


There is widespread agreement that many of California’s high schools are doing a poor job of preparing their students for college and careers. The James Irvine Foundation is sponsoring a major initiative to develop “Multiple Pathways” –– now called the Linked Learning approach –– as a strategy for improving the performance of California high schools. To inform this effort, the Foundation asked PACE to gather evidence on the cost of linked learning programs. This report by Ace Parsi, University of California, Berkeley, David N. Plank, Policy Analysis for California Education and David Stern, University of California, Berkeley presents the results. How much does a good high school education cost? This is a hard question to answer, because we do not know whether traditional high schools are using their resources in the best possible ways. We know how much school districts spend on their high schools to achieve their current level of performance, but we do not know to what extent achieving better results could be accomplished by using current resources better or whether improved performance would require additional resources. This makes judgments about whether reform strategies like Linked Learning cost more than, less than, or the same as traditional high school programs difficult, because we do not have a clear baseline against which to compare costs.

Suggested citationPlank, D., Stern, D., & Parsi, A. (2010, November). Policy report: Costs of California multiple pathway programs [Report]. Policy Analysis for California Education.