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Making "College Ready" Matter

In classrooms throughout the country, implementation of the Common Core State Standards has been well underway for years, and this spring marks the rollout of the new Common Core-aligned assessments. For the first time, the vast majority of all American children will be educated in K–12 schools organized around standards — and tested using assessments — that have been explicitly designed to prepare students to succeed in higher education. But this preparation is only the first step on the complex path from high school to higher education. Students must determine whether they meet minimum standards for admission, qualify for financial aid, and if they need to retest to place into credit-bearing coursework — the policies that impact each of these determinations has the potential to derail students from the ultimate goal of college completion.

These transition policies are the subject of New America’s new data visualization project launching June 9th, Mapping College Readiness, which tracks how these higher education policies do — or do not — align with “college ready” expectations in the states. One of the main takeaways: the array of assessments, varying prerequisite coursework, and additional requirements students must meet just to get through the campus gate are too often illogical and overwhelming. And we know the impact of this confusion: nearly half of low-income high school graduates do not make the transition to college, and almost a third of students who arrive on campus are not deemed ready for college coursework.

Several states have begun to rethink these policies, looking to make better use of information from high schools on students’ readiness rather than adding extra hurdles of their own. This spring, six states — including Delaware — announced that they will begin using their state high school assessment, Smarter Balanced, to inform higher education course placement. Our event, Making “College Ready” Matter, will both highlight the current landscape of state policies, as well as delve into the work states are doing to improve these policies for students. Joining us for opening remarks, Governor Jack Markell of Delaware will discuss the state of Delaware’s commitment to improving college enrollment and completion, and how addressing these transition policies is an important step.

Follow the discussion online using #CollegeReadyMatters and following @NewAmericaEd.


9:15 AM:Introductions
Kevin Carey, Director, Education Policy Program, New America
Jack Markell, Governor, State of Delaware

9:45 AM:Presentation
Lindsey Tepe, Policy Analyst, Education Policy Program, New America

10:00 AM:Panel Discussion
Joel Vargas, Vice President, School and Learning Designs, Jobs for the Future
Elisabeth Barnett, Senior Research Associate, Community College Research Center


Andrew Ujifusa, Reporter, Education Week