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What Does ‘College Ready’ Mean?

graduates

Around half of all high school graduates who enroll in college don’t finish, and a recent poll of employers found that 40 percent of the new grads they hire don’t have the skills necessary to advance in their jobs. So, clearly the Obama administration’s goal of ensuring that all kids graduate from high school college- and career-ready is a good one — one that even many Republican politicians support. But, as the Christian Science Monitor reports, it does lead educators and policymakers into some murky territory. For instance, there is no single definition of what the terms mean, the Monitor notes. Indeed, one expert says it should mean that graduates have the skills needed to handle, at a minimum, credit-bearing courses at a community college.

The recent Common Core Standards for states drafted by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers says grads should have developed cognitive skills — including the ability to analyze and understand text, and an ability to write clearly and logically — as well as an understanding of core subject material. But experts agree that, so far, there is no good way to measure how college- and career-ready students are; hence the White House making $350 million available to states to develop new assessments. Finally, is being college-ready and career-ready the same thing? Maybe not. One expert says being career-ready may alone require different definitions, depending on the job in question.

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