Closing the Expectations Gap 2010: Fifth Annual 50-State Progress Report on the Alignment of High School Policies with the Demands of College and Careers

Achieve, Inc.
American Diploma Project Network
February 2010

The fifth edition of this annual report presents its most encouraging outlook yet on the state of college- and career-ready expectations in the U.S. It looks at whether states’ K-12 standards, high school graduation requirements, assessments, P-20 data systems, and accountability measures are well-aligned. While nationwide adoption of each piece of this puzzle has been gradual (see the 200620072008, and 2009 reports), the authors cite a new state-led consensus--that all students should graduate from high school college- and career-ready--as an encouraging sign that states are moving in the right direction. To wit, while only three states had college- and career-ready standards in place five years ago, thirty-one do now, an addition of eight in the last year alone. The rest, report Achieve, are either in the process of overhauling their standards or are waiting for the “Common Core” standards (with which Achieve is involved) as guidance. This is notable because the Obama Administration proposed last week that the reauthorization of ESEA tie Title I funds to “career- and college-ready standards” and because the immediate reaction to that announcement was that the Administration was implicitly requiring that states adopt the CCSSI standards when they come out. Then again, this survey relies on states’ self-reporting--though Achieve requires independent verification, and has itself verified twenty-three states’ claims--and “career- and college-ready” is based on each individual state’s postsecondary and business community’s definition. But still, if at least twenty-three states have career- and college-ready standards already, then is all the fuss over CCSSI and the Title I announcement for nothing? You can read the report here.

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