Closing the Expectations Gap 2008

Achieve, Inc.
February 2008

As with last year's edition of this report, the progress that states have made toward "aligning high school policies with the demands of college and careers" is slow and ambiguous. Achieve reports that eight more states have aligned their high school standards with postsecondary expectations (19 total); six more have enacted college- and career-ready graduation requirements (29 total though only nine administer a corresponding test); and three more have implemented P-20 longitudinal data systems (eight total). The numbers show that Achieve's American Diploma Project still has a lot of state policymakers to win over. To Achieve's credit, they've attached dates to a number of items so that states can be monitored as to whether the "commitments" they're making are real. But sometimes it's hard to believe that even actual accomplishments are real. For instance, Achieve counts Texas as one of the states that administers a college-readiness test to high school students. Yet recent news from Texas indicates that its exit exam is a joke: only 20 percent of students who fail the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills are actually prevented from graduating. Consider, too, that, according to the report, 11 of the 19 states that "require" students to enroll in a college- and career-ready curriculum allow them to opt out if their parents sign a waiver. The sturdy wall you see going up in the executive summary  weakens a bit as one reads deeper. Find it here.

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