« Who is Watching Out for Learners | Main | 21st Century Pet Rock »

College and Career Readiness? Do We Need to Clear the Path?

This entry was cross posted on Sentiments on Common Sense.

In recent months tremendous amounts of discourse have surrounded the topic of college and career readiness for students graduating from secondary schools around the United States and the world. A recent eSchool News report noted that the Metlife report, titled The Metlife Survey of the American Teacher: Preparing Students for College and Careers shows a disagreement in constituency groups on readiness factors, readiness priorities and the challenge of remediation upon acceptance into colleges and universities (para.1). The 27th annual series is commissioned by Metlife and conducted by the company Harris Interactive (para. 28).

Not argued among the experts and the participants in the Metlife survey is the fact that education and career readiness is a priority. Instead, the argument is whether post-secondary education is a necessity among America's youth. What does need to be addressed are the skills needed to be successful in post-secondary education and in careers, and how to restructure kindergarten through twelve curriculum to address this perceived skill deficiency.

College success is a clear expectation
Clearly students today have high expectation of going to college. According to the Metlife study, only 57% of students in 1988 said it was likely that they would go to college while today that expectation has risen to 75% (p. 2). Today's middle school students appear to be even more goal oriented. 76% of middle school students who participated in the national survey want and are expected to pursue a bachelor's degree or higher (p.9). The report also notes that there is clearly no disagreement among any of the constituency groups about the need for higher education, noting that....


"both students and Fortune 1000 executives believe that there will be few or no career opportunities for today's middle school and high school students who do not complete some education beyond high school" (p.4).


The division of opinion begins with the classroom teachers. All teachers will openly admit that the goal for each and every student is to graduate ready for careers and post-secondary education. Yet, on average, teachers report that 63% of their students will need remediation in order to be successful in post-secondary education.


The skill set for college and career success
When analyzing the skills necessary for college and career readiness a common theme emerges. Cassel notes in that Fortune 500 companies see a set of thirteen common job skills. The first five consist of teamwork skills, problem solving skills, interpersonal skills, oral communications skills and listening skills. Near the bottom of the list of thirteen skills are reading, writing, organization skills, and computation (p.222).

The current high school diploma requirements are rooted in long standing curriculum. Even in 1918, the Commission on the Reorganization of Secondary Education created a report, which looked at this issue. The Cardinal Principles of Secondary Education at that time set a list of clear criteria in which to measure high school curriculum. They proposed a set of main objectives including: "(1)health; (2)command of fundamental processes (reading, writing, arithmetical computations and the elements of oral and written expression", which at the time were in priority order as organized by the president of Harvard as well as professors and teachers (Wiggins, 2011, p.29).

The Metlife study notes that in "American society overall, there is a growing sense of urgency to prepare more students for careers in science, engineering, technology, and mathematics (STEM) fields and as global citizens who understand the related challenges for society, security and the economy" (p. 11). According to Davis and Shih, the kindergarten through twelve mathematics curriculum alone has changed significantly, and thus the students themselves are developing a new set of skills that challenge the colleges and universities to add more statistics courses, more calculus classes and add coursework that is rooted in "applications and other representations, besides symbolic ones" (p.344). Davis and Shih also note that the levels and content of mathematics taken at the high school level is an important predictor of academic success for students later in their education (p.343).

Currently, the curriculum at the high school level clearly defines what is the United States high school diploma. According to Grant Wiggins, the high school curriculum does "great harm" to "the arts, the technical arts and trades, and the social sciences". There has been a decline in vocational programs across the United States, and we are now seeing a decline in visual and performing arts as well (p.31).


Conclusion
It clearly appears that restructuring the secondary curriculum is an important first step to building the foundation for student's success in post secondary education. With so many teachers reporting that their students will need remediation to be successful in colleges and universities, the need for an examination of the curriculum and the standards appears to be a logical next step. Clarity is needed around what is college and career readiness. The Metlife study defines college ready as "prepared for additional 'study'" while "career ready [students] are ready to join the work force" (p.14). What a workforce in the future looks like remains to be seen, but it is clear the demands of our graduates will change over time. Instead, I agree with Wiggins when he states that the curriculum be designed backwards from what is considered "the vital human capacities needed for successful adulthood regardless of school or job" (p.33)

Interestingly, the divide in opinion as to the college and career readiness skill set is quite interesting. High school curriculum has been determined through a political process and the individuals who determined the curriculum may have a vested interest in the outcome (Wiggins, p. 30). Clearly the disconnect between kindergarten through high school education leaders and the business world is evident and the Metlife study illuminates this point. Looking at the spectrum of important skills and knowledge for college and career readiness, problem solving, critical thinking, oral and written communications are all important. Also important to all study participants are the ability to work independently and work in teams. Where the study participants differ in their views rests in the curricular topics themselves. Only 31% of the Fortune 1000 executives believe that higher-level science is absolutely essential or very important. Only 8% of these same individuals believe that higher-level mathematics is absolutely essential or very important.

The evolution of the idea of a basic skill set for college and career readiness needs to be pushed. A common set of core curriculum standards needs to be adopted, but the adoption needs to be done boldly with an eye on the reality of a changing world.

References
Cassel, R. N. (1998). Career readiness for the communications age based on fortune 500 job-skill needs. Journal of Instructional Psychology.

Davis, J. D., & Shih, J. C. (2007). Secondary options and post-secondary expectations: Standards-based mathematics programs and student achievement on college mathematics placement exams. School Science and Mathematics, 107 (8), 336-346.

eSchool Media. (2011, March 8). Stakeholders differ on college and career readiness. eSchool News . Bethesda, Maryland: http://www.eschoolnews.com/2011/03/08/stakeholders-differ-on-college-and-career-readiness/

Wiggins, G. (2011). A Diploma Worth Having. Educational Leadership , 68 (6), 28-33.


You must be logged in to leave a comment. Login |  Register
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.

Advertisement

Recent Comments

Archives

Categories

Technorati

Technorati search

» Blogs that link here

Tags

#ccko9
#eci831
#ic3s21
#passiondriven
1:1
1:1 laptops
21st century
21st Century
21st Century Schools
21st Century Skills
21st Century skills
Abraham Lincoln
Accountability
accountabilty
adifference
administrator
Adolescent Literacy Panel
advice
aldonza
aleccouros
Alfie Kohn
Angela Maiers
aptitude
Arthur Benjamin
Artists
Arts
ASCD
Assessment
astronaut
Author
avatar
basketball
Beyond Discipline
Blog
blogging
blogs
boss
calculus
Capacity
Career and College Readiness
Carnegie Foundation
CEDS
Cell Phones
Challenge
Change
change
Charleston Children's Museum
Chris Anderson
CIES
class blogs
Clay Shirky
College
Colonel Eileen Collins
commenting
commitment
communication
Community
community
comparative
compassion
compensation
Comprehension
Comprhension
computers in the classroom
Constructivism
cookie
Copyright_infringement
Copyright_laws
Council of Conscience
creativity
Creativity
Creativity Conversation
Creativity Index
Cultivate
Dan Pink
death valley
Decision making
dennisar
Derailed
Disruptive Innovation
Divergent
dkuropatwa
Don Quixote
Dr. Jeff
Dr. Jeff Goldstein
Drive
dulcinea
Education
education
Education in the United States
educational change
Educational Leadership
educational leadership
educational technology leadership
Educators
effectiveness
Element
empathy
Enactivism
energy savings
Engage
engineering
Engineering
evaluation
evernote
evsc
Facebook
failure
Feedback
Festival
Film festival
firing
formative and summative assessments
Frank Smith
friendship
Future
Garr Reynolds
georgesiemens
Global
Golden Rule
Grades
green technology
heart
heart of a teacher
high school
High school
Higher Education
Higher Order Thinking Skills
hire
history
HOME
Home School Partnership
Homework
hospitals
humility
I Notice
Ian Jukes
Ideas
Identity crisis
imagination
Improvement
improvement
Indexing
influence
Innovation
innovation
innovation3
innovation3 llc
inspiration
instructional leadership
Interests
international
International Society for Technology in Education
interview
ipad
ISTE
Jayson Richardson
job
Job Readiness
John Seely Brown
K through 12
K-8
Karen Armstrong
karl fisch
kellychristopherson
Kent
leaderhhip coaching
leadershiop
leadership
Leadership
leadership development
leadership management influence
Leadership Resources
lean
learning
Learning
Learning 21st Century
legislation
Lifelong learning
Literacy
Literacy and Learning
Love
Man of La Mancha
management
math
math education
mathematics
Mathematics
mboe
Media literacy
medicine
mentoring
merit pay
mguhlin
Michael Watkins
Minds on Fire
moodle
Motivation
Movies
Multiple choice
NAESP
NASA
national educational technology plan
National Governors Association
NCESSE
Neil Rochelle
netbooks
NETS-A
Norma Rae
Nurture
Obama
one to one
online
online learning
Online Software
Originality
osu
Paradoxical Commandments
Parent Invovlement
Parent Partnership
passion
Passion Driven Classroom
Passion Education
Passion Leadership
performance
pete reilly
peter o'toole
Peter Senge
plagiarism
pln
PLN
plurk
Positive feedback
power
preconceptions
President Kennedy
Principal
principal
principal preparation
priorities
probability
Problem Solving
productivity
Professional development
publishing
read/write web
Reading
Reading Next
Reflection
reform
religion
reorganization
research
saving IT dollars
Schedules
school leadership
School Reform
schooling
science
Science
Scott McCloud
Scott McLeod
Second Life
self management
Seth Godin
Shall We Dance?
Shanghai
SIF
Sir Ken Robinson
sir ken robinson
SLC
Social Media
Social Networking
sophia loren
Standardized test
statistics
STEM
stephaniepacemarshall
stephendownes
strategy leadership
student achievement
student led conferences
suffering
summer
Switzerland
systemic change
teacher
Teacher
Teacher Professional Development
teachers
Teachers College Columbia University
teaching
Technology
technology
technology change
Technology integration
technology research
TED
TED Prize
textbooks
The First 90 Days
thin client
Thinking
Thomas Dewey
Tim Irwin
time management
Time To Act
transformation
transformative change
transitions
Tribes-We Need You To Lead Us
Twitter
twitter
Uniqueness
United States
University
University of Alabama-Birmingham
University of Kentucky
vacation
Value
Vision
vision
Wagner
walkthroughs
Web 2.0
Web Filtering
Webinar
weighting
Whole New Mind
wisdom
Wordle
workforce
World Read Aloud Day
Young People