Report: College and Career Readiness

Posted by George W. Bush Institute on May 21, 2018

Students must be prepared for both college and career — not one over the other.

All students will graduate ready for success in college and careers. This simple statement can be found within the goals of nearly all state and local education agencies as well as advocacy and community organizations supporting students. It is a recognition that a young person needs more than a high school diploma in order to support themselves and a family. During the recent Great Recession, over 75% of jobs lost belonged to workers with a high school education or less. The growing job market following the recession has almost exclusively rewarded workers with at least some post-secondary education, who have filled 99% of those 11.6 million jobs.1

In recent years, college and career readiness (CCR) has emerged as a popular phrase and unifying concept to capture the behaviors and measures that demonstrate a student’s level of readiness for college, technical training, or the military. An important shift in recent years is the understanding that students must be prepared for both college and career — not one over the other. States are working to align academic and work-based learning experiences in a more integrated set of opportunities across a student’s journey to and through high school.

But how do we know when and how each student reaches that goal of future readiness? And in this new era of greater local control under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), how do we ensure states and districts that are promising CCR for all students will actually deliver?

While the answers to these questions may seem complicated, we owe it to our students to figure them out. And we must keep the lens of equity affixed as we examine the ways districts and states offer CCR opportunities to students and then support them along the paths they choose to achieve that readiness.

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