College, Career, and Civic Readiness: How Can a State Measure It? - Part 1

Focused Student

On July 9, 2014, the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) hosted the Webinar, “College, Career, and Civic Readiness: How Can a State Measure It?” The Webinar highlighted different methods of measuring college, career, and civic readiness (CCCR) that have been overlooked by more traditional CCCR indicators such as standardized test scores. To discuss this issue, Megan Sambolt from the College and Career Readiness and Success (CCRS) Center at the American Institutes for Research was joined by Roger Marcum, Chair of the Kentucky State Board of Education (KDE); Ken Draut, Kentucky Associate Commissioner of Assessment and Accountability; and Dale Winkler, Kentucky Associate Commissioner, Office of Career Technical Education.

Ace Parsi, the event’s moderator, began by outlining the different roles state board’s play in supporting CCCR measures:

  • Help school boards and state education agencies establish outcomes from their strategic plans  
  • Maintain high school graduation requirements
  • Designate state accountability measures
  • Sign off on state assessment systems

Sambolt provided an overview of research regarding predictors of post-secondary success. She began by discussing how college faculty and employers believe that most students do not possess the skills necessary to succeed academically or professionally. This dearth of confidence from the academic and professional community is precisely why states need to look at new ways of measuring CCCR, especially since they play a vital role in all levels of policy. Sambolt summarized CCRS Center’s brief Predictors of Postsecondary Success, which examines what is known about CCCR indicators and how the opportunity is ripe to develop indicators on many different dimensions. She also touched upon two types of predictors. The first predictors were called “predictors of proximal success.” These predictors look at whether a student participated in early learning, achieved literacy by the third grade, or had a high rate of attendance. Sambolt clarified that although all these things contribute to academic success in late schooling, they still do not guarantee CCCR. She described the second type of predictors as “predictors of college and career readiness.” To expand upon these types of predictors, Sambolt drew attention to the CCRS Center’s College and Career Readiness and Success Organizer, a new, innovative tool that showcases what learners need to know and be able to do to succeed in CCCR. The CCRS Center organizer has four major components:

  • Goals and Expectations
  • Pathways and Supports
  • Resources and Structures
  • Outcomes and Measures

For the purposes of this webinar, Sambolt focused on the Goals and Expectations component and its three major strands.

  • Academic Knowledge looks at what students need to know in core subject areas like reading and math as well as core technical skills. Some indicators in this strand include having a GPA of 3.00 or higher, passing high school exit exams and college entry exams, and meeting thresholds on a number of tests. Indicators such as these are generally predictive of who will enroll in and complete college level courses.
  • Pathway Knowledge focuses on college and career options. For this strand, indicators include whether a student participated in dual enrollment, completed FAFSA, etc.
  • Lifelong Learning Skills encompass social emotional learning, higher order thinking skills, and civic skills to name a few. Concerning this latter strand, Sambolt stressed that although these skills are important for post-secondary success, there is still a lot of work to be done in order to establish these measures as strong predictors.

Sambolt detailed a number of measurement gaps regarding post-secondary success. One such measurement gap is the issue of college readiness vs. career readiness. Sambolt stated that the strong focus on college readiness often eclipses career readiness. Other measurement gaps include: the generalizability of skills; lifelong learning skills; and validation of skills as they relate to CCRS. Sambolt then highlighted some takeaways from her presentation. She stated that research should always be matched with measurement goals; that one should always carefully consider the impacts of including measures, and that it is necessary to include both access and outcomes.

To access full Webinar content and information click here.

Jeremy Rasmussen is a project associate at the College and Career Readiness and Success Center.


Photo Credit: Flickr 

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