Model Agenda for a State College and Career Readiness Initiative


The Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) has developed a model college- and career-readiness agenda, based on SREBs work over several years and based on the practices of several states. This agenda outlines a series of steps that states can follow to complete an effective statewide college-readiness initiative. How each state addresses each step may vary. SREBs experience shows that that each of the following steps is essential if a statewide college- and career-readiness initiative is to be successful. The model agenda provides a general framework against which a state’s progress in its readiness initiative can be reviewed.

  1. Develop statewide college/career readiness standards in reading, writing and math that are:
    • Created jointly by public pre-K-12 and higher education sectors.
    • Adoption of or alignment with national standards (Common Core State Standards, American Diploma Project, the National Assessment of Educational Progress, etc.).
    • Include content descriptions of standards converted to performance levels that are expressed in terms and rubrics commonly understood statewide by all of preK-12 and higher education.
    • Adopted formally as highlighted subsets of the official statewide school standards.
    • Formally approved by all of public higher education (four-year and two-year sectors) in the state as common readiness/placement standards, sending one set of clear expectations from all of public higher education to all public high schools in the state.
  2. Make college/career readiness standards key components of state high school assessments and of statewide higher education placement/readiness assessments.
    • Identify or develop 11th-grade tests that can be used to assess students college/career readiness (especially in English III and Algebra II) and to point students to targeted assistance in 12th-grade transitional courses. 
    • Ensure that tests assess student progress on the specific state-adopted readiness standards.
    • Set qualifying scores that equate to the readiness performance levels expected of entering college students. 
    • Coordinate readiness tests within the states overall school testing program. 
    • Adopt and implement statewide, common college-readiness/placement tests at public postsecondary education institutions based on the state readiness standards.
  3. Make school and student performance on the readiness assessments part of the state school accountability program.
    • Prioritize readiness assessments in accountability systems. 
    • Identify measures to determine if students who meet new standards are successful in college.
  4. Adjust or develop curriculum and instruction to target the specific statewide readiness standards.
    • Map readiness standards back through grades 8-11. 
    • Plan and build supplemental curriculum and instruction for the 12th-grade, targeted to three groups of students:
      • Those who are not ready to graduate from high school. 
      • Those who are ready to graduate but not ready for college or further career preparation. 
      • Those who are ready for college/career preparation (dual-credit students, early-admission students).
    • The non-ready cohort of students should be assisted with special courses in expository reading and writing, and math tutorials directed at the specific readiness standards.
  5. Develop statewide plans for targeted teacher development (pre-service and in-service).
    • Help all teachers understand the specific readiness standards and how to teach them effectively in grades 8-11.
    • Ensure that the plans include preparation for all teachers who will implement the new 12th-grade courses or conduct other activities designed to improve students skills. 
    • Focus professional development for in-service teachers specifically on the state readiness standards. 
    • Ensure that teacher preparation programs for prospective (pre-service) teachers include learning opportunities so that new teachers will understand the state readiness standards and be prepared to teach them effectively.