Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Prepare to define: “college-ready”

The phrase of the moment! You know you should hyphenate it—but you, and the policymakers you love, are probably less clear on how to define it. You could make up your own definition, as this school system did (complete with jazzy videos), or you could look beyond courses taken and test scores to a more complex definition. I like this report by the Center for Educational Policy Research as a starting point. They have turned to research and theory to craft a definition that includes cognitive strategies, content knowledge and behavioral attributes. 

Measuring those attributes? Another story. Improving them? Yeah. The report says that “although measures exist currently or are in the process of being developed to generate high-quality information in all of the component areas of the definition, no system exists or is being developed to integrate the information and, more importantly, shape high school preparation programs so that they do a better, more intentional job of fostering student capabilities in all these areas.”

David Conley at the University of Oregon, who wrote the report, might be a good source as you look into this new framing of an old issue. And you might stop in at an Education Sector event I am moderating on March 11, where Chad Aldeman will discuss his recent report on data systems that might help us better figure out who is graduating high school ready for college, who is not, and why.


  1. My son is a product of the same school system that is spending my tax money promoting the 7 Keys all across the country. But he didn't achieve a single one of these benchmarks according to their schedule.

    Yet today he is a Sr. in College and thriving. Regularly on the Dean's list, President of the Green Club, active in a Fraternity, and active in local civic causes in his community. A well rounded and successful young man. Without the 7 keys.

    Personally I find the 7 Keys to be more of a self promotion by the local Superintendent, then something really intended to benefit the children of my community.

  2. Your link to CEPR only goes to the main website, not to a specific report.

  3. On the lower left of that page, click on the graphic "Redefining College Readiness."

  4. Thank you for the link!