College and Career Readiness

What's the Problem?

In today’s technology-driven and global economy, options for those with no more than a high school education grow fewer each year: At least some education or training after high school now is required for most living-wage or higher-paying jobs. Employers are seeking new hires able to jump in and thrive because they can read, write and compute well, solve complex problems, apply what they know to new contexts and adapt and innovate as job demands change.

“College and career readiness”— leaving high school academically prepared for high-skilled jobs or additional postsecondary education—is no longer an option; it’s a requirement.

What's the Solution?

The readiness gap has been growing for decades, and will not be closed easily. States have made progress in recent years in raising standards, heightening graduation requirements and boosting graduation rates. The key now is for policymakers to build deeper public understanding and support for the reality that all students need better academic preparation than ever before—and to make sure state and policies more consistently reinforce this goal. Higher graduation rates is an important start, but the ultimate goal needs to be even broader, to graduate more students with the skills and knowledge they will need to be successful in college or the workforce.

State leaders need to work with K12 educators and higher education to take these next steps:

  • Adopt and effectively implement rigorous college- and career-ready standards, such as the Common Core State Standards, which are pegged to college and career expectations and are “fewer” so students can learn more deeply—along with new assessments that better value mastery of core concepts and applying what students have learned
  • Assess how well students are prepared with the skills and knowledge to succeed in college and the workforce while they are still in high school, and act on this information to tailor appropriate supports
  • Align high school graduation requirements with postsecondary expectations
  • Build greater capacity among teachers to successfully teach to rigorous standards (such as the new Common Core State Standards)
  • Identify state and local policies, funding mechanisms and innovative practices that can bring struggling students up to higher standards
  • Use P-20/workforce longitudinal data systems to track and assess college and career readiness, identify gaps and identify promising approaches
  • Support college-going cultures in schools and remove basic barriers to college access by providing tools and support to simplify the process to apply for admissions and financial aid
  • Build public support for all students to complete high school fully prepared for success in college and careers