College and Career Readiness
How do you define College and Career Readiness? If the new goal for pre-K-12 educators is to prepare all students to graduate from high school "College and Career Ready," then teachers and administrators must begin this important conversation. In a nation that has traditionally viewed high school graduation as an opportunity for some, many parents and educators may view "College and Career Readiness" as political rhetoric. Over the past fifty years, public schools have changed their view from high school graduation for some to high school graduation for all. During the 1990's, the state of North Carolina developed four different ways to earn a high school diploma:
Students may choose Career Preparation, College Tech Preparation, or College/University Preparation. A fourth course of study, Occupational Preparation, may be taken by students for whom the standard course of study is determined not to be appropriate (North Carolina Department of Public Instruction). This definition of graduation looks at students through the lens of "College OR Career." It should be noted that North Carolina and several other states have recently changed their high school diplomas or pathways.
Sir Ken Robinson, world-renowned education and creativity expert, shares how education has changed over the past century. Visit Changing Education Paradigms. Does Robinson's view of the changing role of education reflect the vision of educators in your school?
Affirming the Goal: Is College and Career Readiness an Internationally Competitive Standard? (Achieve, 2011) is a new document which offers additional insight about the goal of preparing "College and Career" graduates. The authors of this document wrote, "As states implement the Common Core State Standards, educators and policymakers must also engage community stakeholders to broaden their understanding of why such standards are essential; what shifting to a college and career readiness standard means for students, parents, and schools; how these challenging expectations will change other aspects of schooling;and in what ways individuals, groups, and communities can be supportive of implementation efforts. The adoption of internationally benchmarked college and career readiness standards represents a fundamental shift in expectations of students and school systems" (p. 17).
Important Questions For Educators to Consider:
1) How do I support College and Career Readiness?
(First Grade Teacher, Middle School Science Teacher, High School Math Teacher)
2) How does the role of a guidance counselor change when we view every student as a "College and Career Ready Graduate?"
3) Does College and Career Readiness begin in elementary school? What does it look like at each grade level?
4) How do we assist parents and community members in seeing that College and Career Readiness is for every student?
5) How does College and Career Readiness change curriculum, instruction, and assessment?
On February 24, 2009, President Barrack Obama called on all Americans to commit to at least one year of higher education or career training, as he stressed the importance of better schooling in reviving the nation's economy during his first address to Congress.
President Obama said, "So tonight I ask every American to commit to at least one year or more of higher education or career training. This can be a community college or a four-year school, vocational training or an apprenticeship. But whatever the training may be, every American will need to get more than a high school diploma" (White House, 2009).
When politicians make a speech, it may come across as political rhetoric. President Obama cannot do much to change teaching and learning in public schools. However, teachers, administrators and school boards can begin having a conversation about what it means to be College and Career Ready. The changes will not come from speeches, new standards, new assessments, or hoping that more students will graduate from high school. Change will come when educators define College and Career Readiness and then begin to ask, "What is my role?"