Actualizing College and Career Readiness

A growing national focus on college and career readiness (CCR) has emerged over the past decade. For example, in order for states to qualify for a No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Waiver, states must adopt “college and career ready standards” for English/language arts and mathematics, administer assessments that measure these standards, and report data on college-going and college-accumulation rates for all students in their states.[1] In addition, the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) have been designed and advertized as college and career ready standards, and a college ready emphasis has emerged among Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs.

In our work with states, districts, and high schools, we have sensed confusion about what college and career readiness means, how to help students get “there” by the time they are ready to graduate from high school, and how to measure their CCR progress and attainment along the way.  Some of the confusion is borne from different interpretations of college and career ready:  Does it refer to college preparation for everyone? Career preparation for everyone? Both?

With this expanded focus on college and career readiness, many individual schools, districts and states are grappling with the challenge of actualizing college and career readiness, which literally means making it happen at their respective levels. From policies to research to practice, there is a growing body of knowledge, resources and tools, and practical guidelines that address one or more aspects of CCR. Some of these promising resources include the American Youth Policy Forum’s Success at Every Step of the Way, the EPIC Center’s College and Career Ready School Diagnostic, and ConnectEd’s Linked Learning Project

Over the next few months, the National High School Center will be introducing new resources and activities to help CCR stakeholders navigate the growing universe of college and career readiness.  Stay tuned for more information!

[1] Requirements are detailed in Principle 1 of the ESEA Flexibility guidelines:  U.S. Department of Education (2011). ESEA Flexibility. Washington, DC. Retrieved on 1/24/12 from

Note: This blog post was originally authored under the auspices of the National High School Center at the American Institutes for Research (AIR). The National High School Center’s blog, High School Matters, which ran until March 2013, provided an objective perspective on the latest research, issues, and events that affected high school improvement. The CCRS Center plans to continue relevant work originally developed under the National High School Center grant. National High School Center blog posts that pertain to CCRS Center issues are included on this website as a resource to our stakeholders.

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