Will implementation of the Common Core State Standards lead to college- and career-readiness?
Adoption of the new standards is just a first step in ensuring student success. With efforts underway in states and districts across the country to implement more rigorous standards and assessments in K-12, those responsible for implementation and support must be mindful of the purpose for adopting the new standards: to prepare students for postsecondary education and careers.
To ensure they reach high levels of academic achievement necessary to succeed beyond pre-K-12 education, some states are developing standards in every subject area, expanding beyond the core of ELA, math, and science. Other states may follow, revising or adding academic standards in more disciplines. States moving to develop additional academic standards acknowledge that college- and career-readiness includes success in all disciplines, primarily ELA, math, science, world languages, social sciences, history, fine arts, health, and physical education. The ELA and math Common Core standards, complimented by college- and career-readiness standards, will help to define the broad areas of understanding and skills that all students must demonstrate.
College- and career-readiness, however, reaches beyond content-specific knowledge and skills, and includes critical and creative thinking, problem solving, inquiry, investigation, research, independent and collaborative learning and work skills, time management, and personal, social, and emotional well being, among others. In developing standards, assessments, and instructional units to prepare pre-K-12 students for college and careers, it will be essential for educators embed these related cognitive and practical skills as a natural part of a student's learning process. To redesign instruction and use more complex assessments, educators must engage in ongoing professional learning and continuous collaboration with peers to support one another in implementing these new practices.
Another essential step will be to engage educators, parents, community members, policy makers, and students themselves in understanding how students' learning experiences will change. Educators too will want to collaborate more closely with post-secondary education agencies and employers to create a more seamless transition from school to careers or post-secondary education, and to assess whether students' mastery of the new standards adequately prepares them for careers and post-secondary education.
Ongoing collaboration between pre-K-12 educators and post-secondary educators and employers will increase the likelihood that the implementation of new standards leads to substantive reduction in remedial-course enrollment at post-secondary institutions and increased employer-reported job readiness and success. Tracking student performance through post-secondary years will allow states and districts to determine if they are meeting their goal of college-and career-ready for all students.
Senior Advisor, Learning Forward