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ERIC Number: ED556337
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2014
Pages: 32
Abstractor: ERIC
Common Core Goes to College: Building Better Connections between High School and Higher Education. Policy Brief
Tepe, Lindsey
New America
Less than 100 years ago, only 16.8 percent of all 17-year olds in the U.S. had graduated from high school. At the same time, less than 5 percent of those 18-24 years old was enrolled in higher education. The K-12 and higher education systems rapidly expanded over the next century to accommodate larger and larger portions of the population, but they did not evolve in concert. As a result, hundreds of thousands of students now graduate from high school and enter college without being adequately prepared to succeed there. Thousands more fail to make the transition into college at all. Because the two systems are not properly connected, millions of people fall short of earning the college credentials that are crucial for prosperity in the modern world. In the early 2000s, a group of key education leaders decided to tackle this problem. The resulting Common Core State Standards (CCSS) Initiative led to the creation and adoption of common education standards in English Language Arts and Mathematics, presently adopted by 43 states and the District of Columbia. In the words of CCSS leaders, "The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers." For the first time, the vast majority of all American children will be educated in K-12 schools organized around standards that have been explicitly designed to prepare students to succeed in higher education. Careful analysis of state policies and practices reveals a higher education landscape riddled with complications and shortcomings for the successful alignment of higher education with the Common Core. An examination of the higher education policies that guide students through the transition from high school to college--including admissions, financial aid, retesting and course placement, and developmental education--reveals many detours and inconsistencies that remain unaddressed. Further, there is little evidence to suggest colleges are meaningfully aligning college instruction and teacher preparation programs with the Common Core standards. Right now, the pieces of high school and higher education are not fitting. The new college- and career-ready standards however present an opportunity for states to reexamine and rebuild the connection. To prepare students to succeed in college and beyond, the spirit of these standards-alignment-needs to go to college as well. Each state needs to plan how to "do it all in one piece" if it is going to be a success. To summarize the argument put forth in this paper the following changes are recommended: (1) Where test scores are used for minimum standards in higher education, include college- and career-ready assessments as a means to meet these standards; (2) Where test scores are used as a proxy for college readiness to award financial aid, allow students to demonstrate proficiency with college- and career ready assessment scores; (3) As college- and career-ready assessments are being developed and implemented, provide greater clarity and consistency between assessment scores and preparation for specific higher education coursework; (4) Align developmental coursework offered by colleges and universities with high school college and career-ready standards, and use college- and career-ready assessments to evaluate the impact of developmental education programs; and (5) Ensure that teacher preparation programs provide comprehensive instruction in how to effectively instruct using college- and career-ready standards.
New America. 740 15th Street NW Suite 900, Washington, DC 20005. Tel: 202-986-2700; Fax: 202-986-3696; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative; Numerical/Quantitative Data
Education Level: High Schools; Secondary Education; Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Alliance for Early Success; Annie E. Casey Foundation; Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund; Grable Foundation; Foundation for Child Development; Kresge Foundation; Lumina Foundation; William and Flora Hewlett Foundation; W. Clement and Jessie V. Stone Foundation; Pritzker Children's Initiative
Authoring Institution: New America