Making Career Readiness Count

Wednesday, May 28, 2014Printer-friendly version

The student performance indicators that states include in school- and district-level report cards and accountability systems should tell a story about what matters most to the states. Looking at these report cards and accountability systems, the story seems to be that the essential “and” in “college and careers” is actually an “or,” with the focus on career readiness often limited to a subset of students. Without including student performance indicators tied to career pathways and experiences, states are missing the opportunity to signal to schools and districts, communities, parents, and students that preparing all students for careers matters. The purpose of this brief is to increase knowledge and understanding of career readiness by proposing an expanded framework for college- and career-ready indicators that better incorporates indicators focused on career preparation.

Achieve and the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc) developed this brief to catalyze action—providing guidance and recommendations for states on how they can take steps in the next few years to ensure that the “career” in their college- and career-ready accountability and public reporting system is not an afterthought but rather a powerful lever to focus priorities, drive progress, and ultimately see more students, and their communities, succeed. The policy brief examines how states are currently using career-focused indicators in accountability systems (e.g., weighted in accountability formulas and/or awarding bonus points) and in public reporting systems such as school report cards. It finds that over half of states include at least one career-focused indicator in accountability, reporting, or both.  It highlights several states that are paving the way toward more comprehensive systems that value career readiness.

The brief also offers recommendations for states to use multiple measures of career readiness in their systems, to deeply engage state CTE/college and career readiness leaders as well as workforce and economic development leaders in all aspects of designing and continuously improving the use of indicators, to find the right balance of using indicators in accountability and public reporting, and finally, to act on the information gleaned from use of the indicators to improve outcomes for students.