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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Contact: Daphne Borromeo
Voice: (408) 271-2699
E-mail: dborromeo@highereducation.org



New Report Provides States with Strategies to Improve College Readiness and Success

San Jose, CA— A new report released today says states can significantly improve students' college readiness and success by taking action in four key areas of statewide policy. According to Claiming Common Ground: State Policymaking for Improving College Readiness and Success, educators and policymakers have developed disconnected state systems of education that do not adequately prepare high school students for postsecondary education.

The four state policy dimensions that the report identifies are:

  • Alignment of Courses and Assessments. States need to make sure that high school graduation standards and college entrance and placement standards are connected. Students currently graduate from high school and then face an entirely different set of expectations once they begin college.

  • State Finance. States should provide more financial support to K–12 and postsecondary education to help them collaborate to improve college readiness and success. For example, students in Indiana receive financial aid for taking courses in high school that prepare them for college.

  • Statewide Data Systems. States should create information systems that can track student progress from high school through college.

  • Accountability. States should publicly report on student progress and success from high school through postsecondary education degrees and credentials. Schools, colleges, and universities should be held accountable for improving student performance from high school to college completion.

The report finds that states are in the unique position to claim common ground between K–12 and postsecondary education. By changing their policies in the four areas recommended in the report, states can require and assist schools, colleges, and universities in working together toward a common goal—to significantly increase the number of students graduating from high school and completing college-level education and training.

According to Claiming Common Ground, high school students who seek to enroll in college must navigate a maze of disconnected curricula and assessments that are reinforced by state policies. In addition, the study notes that these systems waste taxpayer money on inefficient uses of resources, create barriers for high school students who seek to prepare for college, and undermine efforts to improve college completion rates.

These conclusions come at a time when minority groups with the lowest average levels of education are projected to grow rapidly, while the baby boomers—the most highly educated generation in U.S. history—are expected to retire in record numbers. Recent population studies have found that unless states can improve the education of all students, the percentage of the U.S. workforce with a bachelor's degree will decrease over the next 15 years, with a corresponding drop in personal income per capita.

Claiming Common Ground was released by the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education. The report was written by Patrick M. Callan, president of the National Center; Joni E. Finney, vice president of the National Center; Michael W. Kirst, professor of education at Stanford University and former president of the California State Board of Education; Michael D. Usdan, senior fellow at the Institute for Educational Leadership (IEL); and Andrea Venezia, senior policy analyst and project director at the National Center.

The recommendations in the study build on previous collaborative work among the National Center, the Stanford Institute for Higher Education Research (SIHER), and IEL. Their research resulted in a series of studies which most recently includes The Governance Divide: A Report on a Four-State Study on Improving College Readiness and Success.

Upon its release, the report will be available on the National Center's Web site at www.highereducation.org.

The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization. It is not affiliated with any institution of higher education or with any government agency. The purpose of the National Center's studies and reports is to stimulate public policies that will improve the effectiveness and accessibility of higher education.

The Stanford Institute for Higher Education Research (SIHER) is home to sponsored research projects that examine contemporary higher education planning and policy issues from a wide range of analytical perspectives, including those of social scientists and policy audiences in the United States and abroad.

The Institute for Educational Leadership (IEL) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization based in Washington, D.C. For more than 40 years, IEL's mission has been to build the capacity of individuals and organizations in education and related fields to work together—across policies, programs, and sectors.

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