Every Child College- and Career-Ready

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President Obama released his proposed budget, unveiling a direction for the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). A new line item -"College- and Career-Ready Students" – redirects ESEA (or No Child Left Behind, as it was formerly known) to anchor itself in the goal of graduating all students ready for college and careers. Given that college and career readiness for all students is at the core of Achieve’s mission, we are encouraged by this new direction.

The Fiscal Year 2011 Budget Summary notes: "States would be asked to adopt statewide standards that build toward college- and career-readiness (CCR) and to implement high-quality assessments aligned with these CCR standards and capable of measuring individual student growth toward CCR… States would measure school performance and differentiate schools on the basis of progress in getting all subgroups of students on track to CCR, the growth of individual students toward CCR, progress toward closing subgroup achievement gaps, graduation rates (at the high school level), and other measures as appropriate. Schools that are showing significant improvement or showing progress towards the CCR goal for all groups of students in the school would be eligible for recognition and rewards. Persistently low-performing schools would be required to implement significant change."

This change in focus reflects the growing national trend, led by the states, that increasingly sets college and career readiness as the end of high school bar. Just five years ago when Achieve launched the American Diploma Project Network, 13 states agreed to develop standards, graduation requirements, assessments, and data and accountability systems that ensure all students graduate from high school ready for college, career and life. Now 35 states are part of the ADP network that educates 85 percent of students in the U.S.

Creating accountability systems that value college and career readiness is a critical piece of the puzzle—for more on Achieve's take on how states can build college and career readiness indicators into their accountability system, see Measures that Matter.