A Path to College and Career
Stepping Stones for States

Blog post Meagan Crowe SREB Policy Analyst

A thriving economy and a workforce prepared for it will increasingly demand that more adults earn postsecondary credentials. Ensuring that students successfully move from middle grades into high school, then into college or technical education programs, is critical if states hope to boost their adult educational attainment levels. A well-defined and shared vision for what it means to be college and career ready is one of the most important steps a state can take to prepare students for tomorrow’s workforce.

States must consider many factors affecting students as they move into high school and beyond if their graduates are to be college and career ready. States can focus on policy areas guiding students’ choices, enhance and create learning opportunities, and measure progress to help students as they advance toward college and careers.

In a majority of SREB states, graduation planning begins in middle grades, and to achieve postsecondary success students must use their high school years efficiently as well. Completing coursework that fulfills graduation requirements, selecting appropriate accelerated learning options and choosing a career study path are some ways that all students can make the most of their high school years.

Policies for placing students into college-level coursework vary by path and institution.

How planning and preparation are measured and conveyed to postsecondary institutions is vital to smoothing the transition beyond high school. Across the SREB states, high school graduation requirements for college-bound students are basically aligned with state postsecondary admissions requirements. Course placement, however, may vary by postsecondary path and institution, even in states with a statewide minimum placement policy.

Finally, more states now have a mix of need- and merit-based aid, which is critical to meeting the adult educational attainment that today’s workforce demands. With rising college tuition and related costs, part-time and underserved students are going to need additional support to enroll in and complete college and technical programs on varying timelines.

Check out SREB’s High School to College and Career profiles >