How Geographic Information Systems Can Help Inform Work-Based Learning Decisions

Nearly five decades of research has demonstrated that the places where individuals live and learn have a dramatic impact on their opportunities and life outcomes. These place effects—the advantages and disadvantages that one inherits by simply living in a particular location—have a particularly strong impact on one’s access to high-quality education, workforce training, and employment, which are the key ingredients to upward economic mobility. It is vital that leaders in state and local education agencies are mindful of place effects as they help districts and schools to develop work-based learning (WBL) systems across diverse contexts.

To support this critical work, the College and Career Readiness and Success Center has collaborated with several state and local agencies to produce custom-designed maps using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to help leadership teams contextualize their WBL initiatives, that is, to develop a more precise understanding of how resources and socioeconomic factors are distributed. This resource is a collection of essential WBL questions that state agency partners can answer using GIS mapping data. Embedded within the essential questions are a series of probing questions that further support the use of the maps to develop and implement quality WBL systems.