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College and Career Readiness . . . What’s being done about it?

09/02/2015 Published by: Amy Soupene

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Categories: Transition to College

In our blog entries published in March, “What’s the big deal about “College and Career Readiness?”,  and in June, “Why College and Career Ready Standards are Important for Military-Connected Students”, we discussed the importance of preparing military-connected students for life after high school graduation.  Information provided below by the Foundation for Excellence in Education further illustrates the gap between where graduates currently are in terms of college and career readiness and where they need to be . . .

  • 23% of 17-20 year olds taking the Armed Forces Qualification Test do not earn a qualifying score
  • 74% of ACT-tested high school graduates fail to score “college ready” in English, reading, math and science
  • 600,000 manufacturing jobs go unfilled due to a lack of qualified applicants
  • $7 billion is spent by first-year college students to learn what they should have been taught in high school
  • To appreciate where the U.S. is now in its efforts to ensure our students’ success it helps to have an understanding of our country’s history of providing the children of our country with a quality education. “The original Department of Education was created in 1867 to collect information on schools and teaching that would help the States establish effective school systems. While the agency's name and location within the Executive Branch have changed over the past 130 years, this early emphasis on getting information on what works in education to teachers and education policymakers continues down to the present day.” (U.S. Department of Education’s “The Federal Role in Education”)

As illustrated by the timeline below, education reform is nothing new . . .

1890 – The Second Morrill Act gave the Office of Education responsibility for supporting land-grant colleges and universities
1917 – The Smith-Hughes Act provided for vocational education support
1941 – The Lanham Act initiated funding to school districts affected by the presence of military and federal installations
1944 – The GI Bill authorized postsecondary aid for World War II Veterans
1946 – The George-Barden Act focused on agricultural, industrial and home economics training in high school
1950 – Impact Aid laws were another effort to ease the burden on areas affected by military/federal presence
1958 – The National Defense Education Act (NDEA) was passed to ensure America could compete with the Soviet Union in science and technology during the Cold War. The NDEA:  provided loan support to college students; improved instruction in science, math and foreign languages; and supported graduate fellowships, foreign language and area studies, and vocational-technical training.
1960s and 1970s – Several anti-poverty and civil rights laws were passed to ensure equal access to education
1965 – The Elementary Secondary Education Act (ESEA) furthered the effort to achieve “full educational opportunity” for all students
1980 – The Department of Education was established by Congress as a Cabinet level agency
2002 – No Child Left Behind (NCLB) was a reauthorization of the ESEA which is currently under revision. The currently proposed revision specifically highlights the need for “College and Career-Ready Students” and the “Rigorous College and Career-Ready Standards” needed to prepare them.

In “Defining and Measuring College and Career Readiness” David T. Conley, PhD and CEO of the Educational Policy Improvement Center, spells out another timeline worth noting. This one reflects the evolution of prior readiness “standards” in the United States . . .

2003 – Standards for Success
2004 – American Diploma Project Benchmarks, revised in 2008
2006 – College Board Standards for College Success
2007 – ACT College Readiness Benchmarks
2009 – Texas College and Readiness Standards

When the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) began the Common Core State Standards effort back in 2009, their goal was “consistent real-world learning goals . . . to ensure all students regardless of where they live, are graduating prepared for college, career and life.” While the debate continues as to the proper administration of college and career ready standards, what remains is the underlying goal of educating our country’s students in a manner that makes them more competitive with their peers around the globe and results in successful employment . . . in whatever field they end up in.

What does this mean for military-connected families and what is being done about it? “Soldiers expect a certain level of care for their families as part of their service to our country – and that care must now include education. As Service members and their families move from post to post, they deserve a guarantee their children are receiving a standard of education that will prepare them for their futures,” says Jim Cowen, director of military outreach at the Collaborative for Student Success. “Fortunately, a majority of states have adopted the Common Core State Standards as a way of ensuring that their students are receiving the same rigorous level of education.”

Like Conley’s and Cowen’s, other organizations are also working on this effort to achieve “College and Career Readiness”.  They include:

  • The Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC) – Established in 1998 with a mission to “ensure inclusive, quality educational experiences for all military-connected children affected by mobility, family separation and transition” MCEC offers resources, training and programs for military-connected students of all ages and those who work to support them.
  • Achieve – An independent, bi-partisan, non-profit education reform organization led by a Board of Directors made up of governors and business leaders.
  • The Gates Foundation – Supports efforts (like this series of blog entries) to increase awareness on the subject of College and Career Readiness.
  • The Thomas B. Fordham Institute – Works to “advance educational excellence for every child through quality research, analysis, and commentary, as well as on-the-ground action and advocacy in Ohio.”
  • The Hunt Institute – Affiliated with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, it “works effortlessly in a nonpartisan way to design strategy, shape policy, and drive educational improvements on the national and state levels.

Stayed tuned for our last installment in this series. . . “Raising our Military-Connected Kids to be College and Career Ready!”

We invite you to read more about College and Career Readiness and to join in the discussion by visiting the Military Child Education Coalition® (MCEC®), its SchoolQuest™ website initiative and its Homeroom interactive online community.  Help us get the word out by liking us on Facebook and following us on Twitter . . . for the sake of the child!

* This blog was made possible by a Gates Foundation grant.

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