College and Career Readiness
April 23, 2013
This interactive video profile of the Quakertown Community School District (QCSD) is the first of a series providing readers with a real-life, practical story about how district and school leaders are working to improve student learning outcomes through the effective use of digital learning. It examines how QCSD—a small, K–12 public school district in rural southeastern Pennsylvania—worked with important partners, including its local teachers’ union, to improve student outcomes using effective applications of technology and blended learning strategies. Throughout the interactive profile, there are short videos from district practitioners describing how they addressed specific issues.
January 22, 2013
For a century, most students have advanced from grade to grade based on the number of days they spend in class, but in New Hampshire, schools have moved away from “seat time” and toward “competency-based learning,” which advances students when they have mastered course content. This report profiles how two high schools in New Hampshire made this shift and examines the changes that were necessary to make competency-based advancement an important part of New Hampshire’s strategy for implementing the Common Core State Standards and ensuring that students graduate ready for college and a career.
The Common Core State Standards spell out the sophisticated language competencies that students will need to perform in academic and technical subject areas. English language learners (ELLs) face a double challenge—they must learn grade-level content while simultaneously building their language proficiency. This policy brief discusses these challenges, highlights initiatives and strategies to advance ELLs' language and content learning, and outlines how policy and practice must change to help ELLs graduate ready for college and a career.
Confronting the Crisis: Federal Investments in State Birth-Through-Grade-Twelve Literacy Education Policy Brief
March 31, 2012
Literacy is one of the most critical components of academic success, but the majority of students are leaving high school without the reading and writing skills needed to succeed in college and a career. According to ACT, fewer than 40 percent of black and Latino students are ready for college-level reading when they graduate from high school. This policy brief describes two state-led initiatives—the English language arts common core state standards, and comprehensive birth-through-grade-twelve state literacy plans—to help all young people attain the advanced literacy skills needed to succeed in the modern world. It concludes with a set of policy recommendations to invest fully in efforts to catalyze nationwide improvements in literacy achievement.
Accelerating the College and Career Readiness of the Nation's Students (State Cards)
May 26, 2011
Principles for a Comprehensive Assessment System Policy Brief (PDF)
February 25, 2010
The United States is poised to make the most dramatic advance in assessment in decades. A state-led effort to develop common core standards in literacy and mathematics is defining what it means to be ready for colleges and careers, and this effort will invariably heighten the demand for assessments that measure a broader range of knowledge and skills and open the door for common assessment components across states. At the same time, the U.S. Department of Education is providing $350 million for consortia of states to develop new assessments that measure the common core standards. And a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) will set guidelines for assessments and their use for years to come. This opportunity could not be more timely. There is widespread concern that the most prominent assessments currently being used in the United States are inadequate and may have a significantly negative impact on student learning. This brief suggests the principles upon which the federal government and states should base their work in fashioning new assessments. Recognizing that no single test can fulfill all the needs for information by all stakeholders, it suggests the need for a comprehensive system of assessments. Most importantly, the brief argues that this system needs to be coherent and cohesive, aligned to standards for college and career readiness.
Common Standards: The Time Is Now Issue Brief (PDF)
December 17, 2009
After years of debate, the nation is now taking a bold step toward ensuring that all students graduate ready for college and careers. Under the leadership of the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, a panel has drafted a set of Common Core State Standards for college and career readiness. These standards will raise expectations for all students and will be the same no matter where students happen to live. That would represent a sea change in American education, one that is sorely needed. The wide variations that currently exist are unacceptable and are especially harmful to low-income students and students of color. All states and schools should expect every student to graduate from high school ready for college and careers. This brief outlines the need for common standards that are rigorous, clear, and focused and suggests ways that common standards will help lay the foundation for a stronger education system that will prepare all students for college and careers.
Teaching for a New World: Preparing High School Educators to Deliver College- and Career-Ready Instruction Policy Briefs
November 3, 2009
It is well established that teacher quality is one of the most significant school influences on student achievement. Unfortunately, it is less clear how teacher preparation programs can prepare and recruit effective educators for every classroom. As the global economy demands that all students are college and career ready after high school, teachers must be educated and supported to instruct to this higher standard. Despite pockets of excellence across the country in the ways teachers are prepared in both traditional and alternative routes, there is a need for a new, comprehensive vision. This brief offers a new conception for secondary teacher preparation that ensures candidates are able to prepare students for college and career success after high school, encourages a shift to the skills, knowledge, and competencies candidates should have once they become classroom teachers of record, highlights the need for improved teacher performance assessments and data systems, and contemplates how federal policy can support the realization of these goals.
Reinventing the Federal Role in Education: Supporting the Goal of College and Career Readiness for All Students Policy Brief (PDF)
July 10, 2009
It is a unique moment in education policy. From the highest levels of leadership--the president and the U.S. secretary of education--there is a call to action to address the high school crisis, focus on the lowest-performing schools, and graduate students college and career ready. Over the last few years, congressional leaders have developed legislative proposals based on research and best practice that demonstrate possible ways forward for federal policy. The recent infusion of new funds from the federal stimulus program has opened the nation’s eyes to new opportunities and reinvigorated efforts to improve education. And the state-led movement to develop common standards and assessments offers the nation an opportunity to trade incremental changes for collaborative efforts with the power to truly transform American education. It is time to harness this progress and momentum, and convert commitment and proposals into a reauthorized Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) strategically designed to address the high school crisis and move the nation toward the goal of all students graduating from high school ready for college and careers. This brief provides recommendations for an ESEA reauthorization that would help ensure federal policy not only maintains pace with the common standards initiative, but also serves as a leader and partner in helping bring the potential of this and other efforts to fruition.
Preparing Students for College and Career: California Multiple Pathways Issue Brief (PDF)
June 30, 2009
To prepare students for success in life, the twenty-first-century American high school needs to shift its focus from preparing for college or career to achieving college and career readiness for every student. One of the most comprehensive efforts towards this goal is the “multiple pathways” initiative in California, which is a reform model aimed at improving high schools by pairing a rigorous college preparatory curriculum with an industry theme while offering the supports and workplace exposure that can be critical to students’ success. The initiative provides multiyear programs of study that are rigorous, relevant, and directly connected to regional and state economic needs. This brief details the multiple pathways movement in California, developed in response to poor and inequitable student outcomes, as it continues to garner interest and develop a growing base of evidence. The discussion lays out the rationale for the approach and the implications of this California-based effort for stakeholders seeking to address the national dropout crisis.
As the nation embraces the goal of graduating all students college and career ready, there is a growing movement to realign standards, assessments, and accountability systems to that goal. Meaningful Measurement: The Role of Assessments in Improving High School Education in the Twenty-First Century, is a collection of essays by leading experts that discuss important assessment issues, examines promising assessment practices from across the globe, and offers recommendations on how the federal government can support an assessment agenda for the twenty-first century. Topics include: assessments that measure students’ college and career readiness, performance assessments, the role of benchmark assessments, assessing high school students who are English Language learners and students with disabilities, the benefits of international assessments, the role of technology in improving assessments and their use, and how assessment design affects the implementation of a growth model at the high school level.
Facts for Education Advocates: School Counseling, Access, and Persistence (copublished with the College Board) Fact Sheet (PDF)
April 15, 2009
Recognizing that no tool is more important than information to help educators and other advocates improve the country’s educational system, the College Board and the Alliance for Excellent Education have formed a partnership to develop a series of fact sheets highlighting the state of American schools and their students.
The multi-issue series debuted in May 2008 with an overview of education in the United States; after a summer hiatus, the series picked up again in September and will continue throughout the 2008-2009 school year, with the monthly release of additional fact sheets that address a range of education topics.
Facts For Education Advocates: Price of College and Financial Aid (copublished with the College Board) Fact Sheet (PDF)
December 2, 2008
Recognizing that no tool is more important than information to help educators and other advocates improve the country’s educational system, the College Board and the Alliance for Excellent Education have formed a partnership to develop a series of fact sheets highlighting the state of American schools and their students. The fourth in a multi-issue series provides a “Facts for Education Advocates” feature focusing on the price of college and financial aid.
From No Child Left Behind to Every Child a Graduate Report (PDF)
August 28, 2008
This report outlines the Alliance for Excellent Education’s Framework for Action to Improve Secondary Schools, which reflects the consensus among educators, researchers, policymakers, and other authorities on the specific problems of secondary schools, as well as on the research- and best-practice-supported solutions to those problems. Taken together, the seven policy areas contained within the framework offer a comprehensive and systemic approach to secondary school reform.
High School Teaching for the Twenty-first Century: Preparing Students for College Issue Brief (PDF)
September 12, 2007
Studies show that college remediation rates are high and college completion rates are low, signaling that a fundamental disconnect exists between the way that high school teachers prepare their students for the future and what students truly need to know to meet the demands of college. Decades of reform have focused on restructuring high schools or increasing course requirements for graduation, but the nation has so far failed to address the biggest factor in improving student success—the type of teaching that occurs inside the classroom. High School Teaching for the Twenty-first Century: Preparing Students for College focuses on policy-related issues concerning college readiness—meaning the course work and teaching needed to prepare students for most two- and four-year programs that lead to an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree, respectively. A sustained focus on college readiness can inform, assess, and improve high school teaching for the twenty-first century.
Paying Double: Inadequate High Schools and Community College Remediation Issue Brief (PDF)
August 1, 2006
Americans are beginning to recognize that many of the nation’s high schools are in crisis, as policymakers, business leaders, and celebrities call attention to the country’s low graduation rates. But the dropout problem, although severe, is only one indicator of the trouble plaguing the country’s secondary schools. Because too many students are not learning the basic skills needed to succeed in college or work while they are in high school, the nation loses more than $3.7 billion a year.