Be All That You Can Be (But First Master the Common Core…)

Friday, January 21, 2011Printer-friendly version

Nearly one of every four high school graduates can't pass the basic military entrance exam, according to a new report by The Education Trust. "Shut Out of the Military: Today's High School Education Doesn't Mean You’re Ready for Today's Army" examines data from the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) administered to potential Army recruits gathered from 2004 to 2009. The report paints a troubling picture of how well today’s graduates are prepared for college and careers, including those in the military. 

While much of the research around students' college and career readiness focuses on college remediation and retention rates and measures of on-the-job success, this report delves into the alignment (or lack thereof) between high school and success in the military, appropriately broadening the college- and career-ready agenda to ensure students are prepared for any and all next steps after high school.  As the ASVAB gauges readiness for the full range of jobs in the military - a range that largely mirrors careers in the civilian workforce - it stands to reason that poor performance on the ASVAB indicates that young adults are unlikely to have the skills and knowledge they need to get good, comparable jobs in civilian life. Listen to an NPR discussion of this topic.     

Lack of student preparedness for life after high school is one of the reasons why starting in 2009, 48 states, 2 territories and the District of Columbia worked with the National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School Officers to create Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in English and mathematics. Achieve partnered with NGA and CCSSO on the Initiative and a number of Achieve staff and consultants served on the writing and review teams. Since the final Common Core State Standards were released in June, over 40 states have already adopted them. A central goal of these standards is that they will provide the academic foundation all students need in order to have success after high school in whatever endeavor they pursue. Including military service. 

Representatives of the U.S. military community clearly understand the importance of the CCSS.  The United States Army Accessions Command (USAAC) commended the CCSS in a statement last year. "Like the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children that provides common guidelines for states to follow in handling issues that impact children of military families as they transition between schools, the rigor of the proposed academic Common Core Standards will be a benefit to military dependent students everywhere," said USAAC Commanding General, Lt. Gen. Benjamin C. Freakley. "Moreover, I fully agree with Secretary of Education Duncan when he says there is no more important work than preparing our students to succeed in the global economy. Our national security as well as our national economy hinge upon education and our ability to adapt to global changes. National standards will raise the bar in education and, ultimately, serve our Nation by producing high school graduates fully prepared for higher education, the military, or the workforce." 

The Military Child Education Coalition also endorsed the Common Core Standards. Mary M. Keller, Ed.D., President and CEO, wrote, "All children deserve thorough and thoughtful standards; highly mobile military-connected students deserve predictability…When completed, these standards will enable military families and other mobile populations to finally have a common, high quality reference point that delineates expectations across state lines and grade levels." 

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