Note from the Director: The CCRS Center in Year Three

What do our students need in order to be ready for college, careers, and beyond?
American Institutes for Research (AIR) has a specific goal: use the best science available to bring the most effective ideas and approaches to enhance everyday life. For the College and Career Readiness and Success (CCRS) Center – housed at AIR – this means enhancing the lives of students.

The CCRS Center sits within a broader network of federally-funded centers that support states in improving educational outcomes for students. As one of seven content centers, the CCRS Center also supports regional comprehensive centers (RCCs) that work directly with states. Building on AIR’s overarching goal, the Center uses a research-based approach to develop technical assistance (TA) support for states as they prepare their students for success in college and careers.

I join the Center in its third year – at a time when science is emerging as an essential tool in determining what combination of academic, interpersonal, and intrapersonal skills it takes to be successful after high school. I know from my own experience that a combination of all three is essential. We need tangible data, from Pre-K to the workforce, so that educators can understand what skills are required for success – and then need to teach these skills to our children. As I take on the role of Director of the CCRS Center, I plan to continue utilizing our expertise and resources to support states in finding their individual answers to the question of what our students need in order to be ready for college, careers, and beyond. My goal is to help ensure that every student is prepared for success in college and careers.

Why is the Center taking on this question?
Significant shifts in policy and resources over the last six years have signaled a growing interest in utilizing preschool and K-12 education to prepare all students for success in college and careers. Initiatives such as Race to the Top, School Improvement Grants, Elementary and Secondary Education Act flexibility, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act results-driven accountability, and individual state policies show that there is a desire at both the federal and state levels to prepare students for success in college and careers. States have recently enacted their own college and career readiness academic standards, new school accountability systems, and new educator evaluation and support systems.  The shift and emphasis on college and career readiness for all students is unprecedented.

These shifts help bolster the front lines – our schools and districts – that face the herculean task of teaching students the multifaceted skills and abilities that will prepare them for their future.

How will the Center do its work to build the capacity of RCCs and states?
In 2015, the CCRS Center will focus on supporting RCCs and states in three areas:

  1. Guidance in selecting the specific targets for student achievement, from preschool to workforce
  2. Support in developing strategies for managing and sharing the data associated with these targets
  3. Working together to coordinate state policies for education initiatives that promote college and career readiness and success

We will work with states at all ends of the spectrum – from those at the earliest stages of planning and implementation to those with long-standing, statewide college and career readiness initiatives. 

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Laura Jimenez is the Director of the College and Career Readiness and Success Center at AIR. 

Photo credit: Flickr

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