The American Diploma Project (ADP) college and workplace readiness benchmarks for English are organized into eight strands. To view the benchmarks, see Ready or Not: Creating a High School Diploma that Counts .
Writers and speakers are taken seriously when their vocabulary is sophisticated and their sentences are free of grammatical errors. Without fail, employers and college faculty cite correct grammar, usage, punctuation, capitalization and spelling as absolutely essential to success in classrooms and workplaces beyond high school. Whether presenting a marketing concept to a team of colleagues or clients or presenting an interpretation of a secondary source in a college seminar, students and employees need facility with these fundamental skills for the successful exchange of ideas and information.
Employers and college professors cite strong communication skills as being so essential to success that they insist schools should emphasize them, simultaneously with the transmittal of other academic knowledge. Success in credit-bearing college coursework depends heavily on effective communication about the concepts and detailed information contained within readings, lectures and class discussions. Success in the workplace, whatever the profession, is dependent on one's ability to listen attentively to colleagues or customers and to express ideas clearly and persuasively.
Strong writing skills are an increasingly important commodity. High-growth, highly skilled jobs demand that employees can communicate essential information effectively via e-mail, write proposals to obtain new business, communicate key instructions to colleagues or convey policies to customers. Poor writing may easily affect a company's bottom line and even precipitate legal action. The discipline used to create, reshape and polish pieces of high-quality writing prepares students for occasions when they must write quickly and clearly on demand, whether in the workplace or in college classrooms.
Research requires the ability to frame, analyze and solve problems, while building on the ideas and contributions of others. Credit-bearing coursework in colleges and universities will require students to identify areas for research, narrow those topics and adjust research methodology as necessary. College students will be asked to consider various interpretations of both primary and secondary resources as they develop and defend their own conclusions. Similarly, in the workplace, employers depend heavily on the ability of employees to evaluate the credibility of existing research to establish, reject or refine products and services.
Employers and college professors cite the ability to reason — to think critically, logically and dispassionately — as an absolutely necessary skill for success. High school graduates today are increasingly expected to judge the credibility of sources, evaluate arguments, and understand and convey complex information in the college classroom, in the workplace and as they exercise their rights as citizens. The ability to reason allows for the systematic development of ideas, the ability to make sound choices, and the ability to make and understand persuasive arguments.
F. Informational Text
Literacy in the workplace today, as well as in postsecondary classrooms, requires that students read and interpret a wide range of reference materials: periodicals, memoranda and other documents that may contain technical information. College students and employees need to know how to find, comprehend, interpret and judge the quality of information and evidence presented in such texts. They also need to be able to report their own evaluations, interpretations and judgments in ways that will either advance scholarship in an area of postsecondary study or contribute to workplace productivity.
Media vehicles such as television, radio, film, Web sites and videos are prominent modes of communication. They use sound and moving images to convey information, entertain and persuade in ways that are distinct from the printed word alone. Students, employees — all citizens — need to analyze information coming from a wide variety of media to develop reasonable positions on matters of public policy and personal interest and recognize potential bias at use in new and mixed media markets.
Among the benefits of reading literature and carefully analyzing significant works from both English and other languages is the appreciation of our common humanity. Regular practice in analyzing literature also improves the quality of student writing. Practice in providing evidence from literary works to support an interpretation fosters the skill of reading any text closely and teaches students to think, speak and write logically and coherently. In addition, employers report that employees who have considered the moral dilemmas encountered by literary characters are better able to tolerate ambiguity and nurture problem-solving skills in the workplace. Postsecondary faculty from a wide variety of disciplines note that the skills required by thorough literary analysis are applicable in a range of other humanities, science and social science disciplines.