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College and Career Readiness - A Broad Definition

12/05/2014 Published by: Amy Soupene

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Categories: Your Child's Ages & Stages, Transition to College

College and Career Readiness (CCR) has become a popular topic in educational conversation.  It is an overwhelming belief and reality that a college degree is important in today’s society.  Interestingly, while our teaching methods may change the predictors of success remain relatively constant.  Obviously, GPA and academic performance are good indicators of how well a student will perform in college.  But in today’s world where almost 50% of college students do not earn a diploma our definition of college and career readiness may need to be expanded to a more holistic approach.  Even among college graduates, not all are properly prepared to successfully navigate the workplace environment.

In a 2014 report by ACT  this topic is explored more deeply.  How do we prepare our students for a lifetime of success?  Core academic skills are necessary but so are other non-cognitive skills that are not as easily measured.  It is easy to measure student proficiency in a course through testing.  Has the student learned the material taught?  Testing is an easy way to discover student learning.  What if the testing finds that the student hasn’t grasped the concepts? Will the student have the tenacity and persistence to learn the material?  Is there a good indicator of those students who will go the extra mile? That’s where a more holistic approach enters the conversation.  Students need to know how to plan and organize, a belief in their own ability, tenacity and the ability to work collaboratively. This is hard to measure since this is not easily tested or observed in a single area.  Those things that are part of one’s character tend to show across the boundaries of individual classrooms and are not as easily quantified. 

As the ACT study reports, “…cross-cutting capabilities, such as critical thinking, collaborative problem solving, information and technology skills, and non-cognitive skills, such as behaviors, planning, goal setting, and self-knowledge, are not uniquely associated with a specific course and cannot be easily attributed to teacher performance or school effectiveness.  Such skills may be as essential to long-term success, but they have been largely neglected because current models of CCR appear oriented primarily to holding teachers and schools accountable, rather than focused on student development.”

Teaching our students to believe that they can learn and be successful is as important as teaching them reading, writing, math and science.  Students that were persistent and believed in their ability to succeed not only were successful in high school and college, they also reported a higher rate of job satisfaction after entering the workplace. Employers found these individuals desirable to hire and prepared to work.

While there are many kinks to work out in the implementation of CCR, I believe that one of its strengths is teaching students to think more deeply; to do more than just answer the questions on the test but also to understand why the answer is what it is.  Our goal should be to guide our children and students to becoming well-rounded individuals; possessing both cognitive and non-cognitive skills.

College and Career Readiness is not only a challenge to the educator as they strive to implement it, it is also a challenge to the student to be persistent as they look for the answers.  Persistence will pay off when that student becomes a thinker and a life-long learner.

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