Successes in Achieving College and Career Readiness: External Partners, Cross-State Collaborations, Accountability Systems

The National High School Center at the American Institutes for Research, in collaboration with the American Youth Policy Forum and the Educational Policy Improvement Center, hosted an invitation-only “College and Career Readiness Symposium: The Role of Technical Assistance in Actualizing College and Career Readiness,” in Washington, D.C., on April 24, 2012. During the Symposium, participants and presenters shared their successes during breakout sessions, which helped to shed light on some of the strategies that have helped further the goal of actualizing college and career readiness (CCR). Many of the successes build upon the overriding sense that states and districts will need to learn to work across traditional boundaries in order to actualize CCR for all students.

Assistance from External Partners
Participants reported that external partnerships have played an invaluable role in laying the foundation for attaining CCR for all students, especially industry partners. For example, through its Linked Learning initiative, ConnectEd has engaged with industry partners not only to help identify pathways that will support local and regional workforce needs, but also to design courses that incorporate industry standards. Additionally, in Nashville, industry councils provided support raising money and ensured equal distribution of these funds to each school. Working with schools and communities to implement programs such as Linked Learning has proved to be a successful way to embed the relevance of workplace application into strong academic content.

Bringing Different Stakeholders Together
Conversations, not just with industry partners, but with a range of different stakeholder was a component that many participants felt was beneficial, as it helped gauge interest in CCR, helped stakeholders hear different perspectives, and build relationships. Chicago was cited as an example of this, as a team of people worked together to address the need for civically engaged service learning. Conversations between the secondary and postsecondary level have also been helpful for actualizing CCR. These conversations have not only contributed to greater alignment, but advanced K-12 pathways to postsecondary institutions so there is more information shared about metrics, cut scores and academic preparedness.

Within and Cross-State Collaborations
Participants also pointed to within and cross-state collaboration as a strategy for actualizing CCR. Sometimes facilitated by the National High School Center and the Comprehensive Center Network or other support providers, these partnerships have allowed states to hear about what other regions and states are doing that is helpful, share goals and expectations and collaborate on projects. For example, South Carolina participated in a pilot with the Educational Policy Improvement Center (EPIC) which brought college professors and secondary school teachers from regions within the state to the table to collaborate. They participated in visits to each other’s classrooms and had opportunities to see and discuss curricular content. Those conversations began to address alignment issues on a regional basis. The Content Center network can also play a role in fostering collaborations; for example, the National High School Center has brought a number of different states together who have similar goals and challenges to learn from one another.

Expanding Accountability Systems
Expanding accountability systems beyond K-12 has also been useful for monitoring if students are succeeding in postsecondary institutions. Philadelphia specifically assesses students’ performance in their first year of postsecondary education. In addition, special educators have been reporting on student-level postsecondary outcomes as part of their accountability system.

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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