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Do State ESSA Plans Have Strong Connections to Higher Education?

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We've written a lot about states' long term goals in their plans for the Every Student Succeeds Act. Some of those goals deal with students' successful transition from K-12 schools to higher education. But the extent to which states are aligning those two systems varies, at least as far as their ESSA plans go.

That's one general conclusion reached in an analysis of ESSA plans released Wednesday by the Education Strategy Group, a consulting firm that works on college- and career-readiness with state education departments, districts, and education-oriented groups.

The group's report found that 41 states addressed college- and career-readiness in some fashion in their proposed ESSA accountability systems. However, just 17 states "directly linked their long-term K-12 goals in ESSA to the state's higher education attainment goals."

And 10 states truly honed in on connecting K-12 schools and higher education by combining at least three related strategies, including supporting student transitions to postsecondary work or schooling, "vertically aligning" goals in both K-12 and higher education, and "holding schools accountable for college and career preparation."

Among the states, the report highlights:

  • New York is seeking to "provide a more robust picture of post-high school transitions." This includes reporting on the need for remediation, and employment after graduation. 
  • Oklahoma wants to reduce its college remediation rates by 50 percent by 2025. This is done both in the name of a separate Sooner State goal—having 70 percent of residents get a postsecondary degree or certificate by 2025—and saving $22.5 million annually in remediation costs.
  • South Carolina will ensure that by 2035, 90 percent of its high school graduates will be "college, career, and citizenship ready."

Check out our recent guide to states' ESSA plans. It includes a run-down of how states are handling a variety of topics, ranging from the popularity of measuring chronic absenteeism to the absence of social-emotional learning measures in those plans

You can read the Education Strategy Group's full brief on the second round of ESSA plans below:

And the organization's report on the first batch of ESSA plans from April is here:


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