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CLOSING THE EXPECTATIONS GAP: A Measure of State Progress in Adopting College- and Career- Ready Policies

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What started off as isolated efforts among a few states five years ago has produced a national consensus: all students should receive a quality education that prepares them to succeed in college, career, and life.”

A new report from Achieve finds that states have made steady progress in implementing a college- and career-ready agenda in high schools but notes that few advancements have been made by states in adopting comprehensive accountability systems. According to Closing the Expectations Gap, Texas is the only state to have all five measures of college and career readiness in place, including high standards, graduation requirements, rigorous assessments, P–20 student tracking data, and strong accountability systems.

According to the report, thirty-one states have aligned their English and math high school standards with college and workplace expectations while almost half have graduation requirements that will prepare students for a successful postsecondary future. However, only fourteen states are administering high school assessments that the state’s postsecondary institutions use to make placement decisions or the business community uses for hiring decisions. Only a few more states (sixteen) have implemented longitudinal data systems that follow student achievement from the state’s K–12 systems to the state’s higher education systems.

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Achieve used a four-point evaluation method to establish whether a state had a comprehensive accountability system in place. The four critical indicators were whether the state’s system tracked the percentage of high school graduates who (1) earned a college- and career-ready diploma, (2) obtained a readiness score on a college- and career-ready high school assessment, (3) earned college credit while still in high school, and (4) required remediation upon entering college. Texas was the only state to meet all of these requirements for an up-to-date, effective accountability system. However, as the chart to the right shows, many other states are on their way to developing solid accountability structures.

Overall, nearly every state has made progress since 2005 when Achieve held a meeting with forty-five of the nation’s governors as well as business and education leaders from around the country. The summit spurred the formation of the American Diploma Project (ADP), a coalition that now includes thirty-five states committed to aligning high school curriculum with college and workforce demands. To monitor state progress on ADP’s goals, Achieve conducts this study on an annual basis and surveys K–12 education chiefs from all fifty states and the District of Columbia.

“What started off as isolated efforts among a few states five years ago has produced a national consensus: all students should receive a quality education that prepares them to succeed in college, career, and life,” said Mike Cohen, president of Achieve. “We applaud state leaders for spearheading what will benefit the future of our children and our nation.”

To read the full report, visit http://www.achieve.org/files/AchieveClosingtheExpectationsGap2010.pdf.

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