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All4Ed Releases Report — “Undermeasuring: College and Career Readiness Indicators May Not Reflect College and Career Outcomes.”

For Release: February 27, 2023
Contact: Enrique A. Chaurand, 816-825-1072 cell,

Washington – February 27, 2023 – A new report from All4Ed, a leading national advocacy nonprofit committed to expanding equitable opportunities for students of color, students from low-income families, and other marginalized groups, finds that many states may be underestimating—or “undermeasuring”—high school students’ postsecondary potential, just as many highly qualified students are “undermatched” and do not enroll in colleges that reflect their abilities.

In other words, in 34 states (including Washington, DC), the percentage of students deemed college and career ready is lower than the percentage who enroll in higher education immediately after high school. The percentage of high school completers considered ready is also lower than the percentage of those students who could enter credit-bearing college courses without remediation in 25 of the 28 states where data was available.

Since the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in 2015, 37 states have incorporated college and career readiness indicators into their school accountability systems. However, because there is no uniform way to measure readiness, states have developed different metrics and set different benchmarks for students, which raises legitimate concerns regarding whether states are relying on the “right” measures to evaluate readiness. It is similarly concerning that states tend to rely on measures meant to predict success after high school rather than include actual postsecondary outcomes, like college enrollment or persistence.

“In our report, we explore these concerns by comparing statewide college and career readiness, college enrollment, and college remediation rates for recent high school graduates,” said Ziyu Zhou, Research and Data Specialist at All4Ed and author of the report. “For example, our analysis revealed that undermeasuring does not affect all states—or all student groups—similarly. Compared to their White peers, states are more likely to undermeasure Black and Latinx students’ readiness for higher education.”

Undermeasuring is also more pronounced in states where the only available statewide readiness data is based on college admissions exams. Undermeasuring is less common in states where several data points, such as acquisition of dual credit or industry-recognized credentials and completion of advanced diplomas or career and technical education pathways, are considered alongside performance on assessments like the ACT and SAT.

Given these findings, the report offers several recommendations for state leaders to improve their college- and career-ready indicators so they are more nuanced and accurate, including ways to avoid undermeasuring. In particular, the report recommends states: (1) use readiness indicators that consider multiple options for students to demonstrate readiness, as opposed to relying on a single measure; and (2) include actual postsecondary outcomes as part of their college and career readiness indicators.

“As state education leaders continue to improve student outcomes beyond high school, we hope this report will help them better understand the landscape of college and career readiness indicators across states, avoid undermeasuring students’ abilities to succeed in postsecondary pathways, and inspire them to make the necessary policy changes to better align their K-12 and postsecondary systems,” said Anne Hyslop, All4Ed’s Director of Policy Development.

A copy of the Executive Summary is available here.

This report was supported by a generous grant from the Joyce Foundation and can be found on the All4Ed website at


All4Ed (formerly the Alliance for Excellent Education) is a Washington, DC–based national organization dedicated to advancing policies and practices so all students, especially those from underserved communities and particularly students of color and those from low-income families, graduate from high school prepared to complete postsecondary education and achieve success in a rapidly changing world.