Preparing students for college and career is a critical role for our nation’s K-12 education system. There are a few steps that communities can advocate for to provide stronger foundations for student success:
Communities can encourage policymakers to reform the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act to align secondary and postsecondary institutions and employers more effectively to train students to meet the demand of regional and state labor markets; encourage efforts to integrate technical and academic courses; and support state efforts to link student college completion, transcript, and employment data to high schools and other preparation program admissions to postsecondary education and success in postsecondary credit-bearing courses.
Communities can support a college-going culture in their schools in a number of ways. They can advocate for funding and supporting policies that enable the expansion of rigorous secondary curricula (e.g., Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate) and effective models, such as dual enrollment and Early College High Schools. The programs should be aligned to college and career standards, and accepted by (in-state) postsecondary institutions. College-focused school counseling programs and Student Graduation Plans with embedded college, career, and financial assistance counseling aid in this work as well.
Communities can also support state accountability systems that include achievement measures, high school graduation rates, and other measures of college and career readiness such as AP/IB performance, SAT/ACT performance, and the percentage of students enrolling in postsecondary education. In multiple-measure systems, graduation rates (using the ACGR) should receive equal weight with measures of achievement. Accountability systems weighted heavily toward performance on standardized tests create an incentive to push low- performing students out of school to seemingly raise test scores, an unintended but real potentially negative consequence. Uniform goals and targets for each indicator should be established for all students and subgroups, leading toward the ultimate goal of college- and career- readiness.
For more information on effective policies in this area, see the Alliance For Excellent Education’s Website: http://www.all4ed.org/