Aligning Expectations for College Readiness

What does it mean to be college ready?  According to panelists in a briefing last week sponsored by the Lumina Foundation, college readiness must be determined by aligning expectations for high school graduates with expectations for college freshmen.  In other words, when students graduate from high school and pass their final exams, they should be ready to succeed in an entry level college class, without having to take remediation courses.  This goal requires a commitment on the part of K-12 educators to listen to what colleges and universities expect of their students and to form standards and assessments that align with those expectations.  Higher education institutions, in turn, must share their vision of what a successful college freshman looks like, help K-12 educators integrate those expectations into standards and assessments, and finally, be prepared to accept students who graduate with high school diplomas that reflect these expectations as ready for entry level classes. Panelists touted the drafting of the Common Core State Standards and assessments as a critical opportunity to align K-12 and Higher Education expectations.  Dr. Sue Caine, Director of the College Readiness and Developmental Education at the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, said that Kentucky works tirelessly to get representatives from each community (e.g. K-12 education, higher education, adult education, and industry) at the table for every meeting to ensure alignment and buy in.  Dane Linn, Director of Education Division of the National Governors Association and a member of the National High School Center’s Advisory Board, added that higher education institutions must work closely with PARCC and SMARTER Balanced assessment consortia, particularly as it relates to establishing cut scores on assessments that indicate college and career readiness.  Higher education will need to be invested in the cut score decision, because if they are not, they will not be willing to use the assessments as evidence of readiness and may develop alternative measures. Representatives from PARCC and SMARTER Balanced provided an update on their progress, and highlighted the role of input from post-secondary institutions last week in a Webinar sponsored by the Alliance for Excellent Education.  View the Webinar or download the slides here: http://media.all4ed.org/webinar-sep-13-2011.

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