and telling their own story of how they
became college ready.
The adults in school pay particular
attention to students who would be the
first in their family to attend college,
and they provide programs and supports that help these students develop
and maintain high aspirations. These
programs include additional information on college requirements and
financial aid options, along with individual attention and encouragement.
courses include demanding projects and
tasks that incorporate academic skills.
Measure what’s important for both
college and career success.
The school moves beyond traditional
standardized test results and includes
additional indicators of college and
career readiness that measure a range
Align all courses to college- and
The school ensures that any course a
student takes, whether it covers career
and technical education or college-prep
content, builds core academic skills necessary for postsecondary readiness. Key
skills, such as time management, study
skills, and goal setting, are explicitly
taught and practiced. Middle and high
school courses and expectations integrate closely so that students progress
continually toward the outcome of
college and career readiness, even as
they take varying routes toward this
programs offer students additional
opportunities for college-like experiences. Recent high school graduates
who are enrolled in local colleges return
to advise and mentor students. Strong
partnerships with postsecondary education institutions result in extensive
data sharing, which suggests changes
in the high school curriculum. These
include reevaluating the high school’s
reading and writing requirements, the
informational reading skills and technological skills that students need, and
the types of exams that students should
Students should be encouraged to state a career
goal beginning in 9th grade (which they could
easily and regularly change thereafter).
of skills. These include key cognitive
strategies; key learning skills and techniques, such as goal setting and progress
monitoring, test-taking and note-taking methods, and persistence with
challenging tasks; and key transition
knowledge and skills, such as “college
knowledge” of admissions requirements
and processes, financial aid, the culture
of college, and self-advocacy.
More courses use embedded assessments tied to college and career
readiness, such as extended essays,
demonstrations and culminating
projects, research papers, and inquiry-based experiments and investigations.
These assessments yield information on
student thinking and problem-solving
skills. Grading is better calibrated to
college readiness so that an A really
means that a student is ready for postsecondary studies. Career-oriented
Partner with local postsecondary
institutions and businesses.
The school offers students more
exposure to postsecondary opportunities. High school and college course
expectations are aligned and continuous. Students have multiple opportunities for career exploration through
class assignments and connections with
Transition programs help more
students prepare gradually for postsecondary expectations by conceiving
of college readiness as a continuum,
not a cut score. Offerings ranging from
senior seminars on college readiness,
to placement tests administered in high
school, to advanced placement classes,
to college campus visits, to summer
bridge programs help students get ready
for postsecondary education.
Concurrent and dual-enrollment
Flexible, Yet Targeted
As convenient as it would be to declare
that college readiness and career readiness are one and the same, evidence
suggests it’s more complicated than that.
The good news is that secondary school
programs of study can be designed in
ways that don’t require distinctly different courses or programs for students
with different interests or aspirations.
All students can be challenged with rigorous academic content and then build
skills and nurture interests necessary to
achieve more personalized goals.
Foundational content knowledge provides students with flexibility. More targeted knowledge and skills prepare
them for postsecondary success in specific areas. By focusing on both, secondary schools can enable all students
to prepare for successful futures. EL
Achieve, Education Trust, & Thomas B.
Fordham Foundation. (2004). Ready or
not: Creating a high school diploma that
counts. Washington, DC: Achieve.
ACT. (2006). Ready for college and ready for
work: Same or different? Iowa City, IA:
ACT. (2011). ACT college readiness standards.
Retrieved from ACT at www.act.org/
Carnevale, A. (1991). America and the new
economy: How new competitive standards
are radically changing American workplaces.