September 3, 2015


Last month, Higher Ed for Higher Standards launched the  Proficient Means Prepared campaign in anticipation of the release of achievement results from the new K-12 student assessments states have adopted. The scores are expected to be lower than on previous tests since the new assessments are based on more rigorous standards. Higher education has a critical role to play in helping build public understanding of and support for these new measures , and Higher Ed for Higher Standards has been working hard to support college leaders in making their voices heard.  

The National Association of System Heads (NASH) and State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO) featured this issue at  their joint meeting in Santa Fe in July. Governor John Engler, President of the Business Roundtable, joined NASH Chair Nancy Zimpher and SHEEO Chair Bob King to discuss the importance of holding firm to high standards. NASH, SHEEO, and HEfHS released a joint statement and a toolkit to support efforts across the states. Check out video highlights below from the Santa Fe meeting and select coverage from Politico's Morning Education, Inside Higher Ed, the Modesto Bee, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation blog.

Focus on Community Colleges 

The nation's leading community college organizations also focused on the issue of college- and career-ready standards at their board meetings this summer. The Association of Community College Trustees, American Association of Community Colleges, and National Association of State Directors of Career and Technical Education Consortium all featured Higher Ed  for Higher Standards on their agendas and discussed ways to strengthen alignment between high schools and higher education institutions. It was acknowledged that raising expectations in high school and building stronger bridge programs between high school and college can dramatically reduce remediation rates and improve college success rates. To find out more about best practices in P-20 alignment, click here .


Higher Ed Steps Up

As the new high school assessment scores begin rolling out in states, some higher education leaders are stepping up as  a part of the Proficient Means Prepared campaign to express their support for high standards and high-quality, aligned assessments. When New York released its new achievement results, SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher released a statement underscoring  the importance of high standards in ensuring "a higher degree of success for all students, from cradle to career."

Higher education in Oregon is also playing an active role in communicating to parents, students, and guidance counselors what the new, more meaningful scores represent for their future. Scores on the state's new Smarter Balanced assessments were released  this month and though they were better than expected, much more work remains to ensure that all students graduate ready for college and careers. Oregon's higher education system adopted a policy to use the scores on the 11th grade assessments for placement into credit-bearing courses, ensuring that students who meet high standards on the tests are deemed ready for credit-bearing coursework and won't need to take an additional placement test when they arrive on campus. Oregon's higher education system leaders are sending letters to students and parents informing them of this policy. This should send an important signal to students that performance on the new assessments can open doors for them.


Higher Standards Necessary for Minority and Historically Underperforming Students  

President and CEO of the New York Urban League Arva Rice underscores the importance of a consistent set of higher standards in "closing the persistent achievement gap," citing the 78 percent of first-year students at CUNY community colleges who require  remedial instruction when they arrive. 

Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Kristin McMillan agrees that raising standards is necessary to  "ensure students will reach their potential and are ready for the challenges of post-secondary education and the workforce."

Students, Higher Ed, Employers Agree: Recent Graduates Unprepared

A new national survey released by Achieve shows that 78 percent of college faculty and 62 percent of employers believe that public high schools are not doing enough to prepare students for the expectations they will face in college and the working world. This survey builds upon Achieve's 2014 survey of recent high school graduates about their preparedness for life after high school, which was released in December.

New results from the College and Career Readiness Survey by YouthTruth show that students also believe that schools aren't helping them develop the skills they'll need to succeed after graduation: 44 percent don't believe their schools have helped them understand the steps they will need to take to apply to college, and about 54 percent said schools have not helped them figure out which careers match their interests and abilities.


About Higher Ed for Higher Standards


Higher Ed for Higher Standards is a coalition of higher education leaders that strives to ensure that Americans realize the importance of higher K-12 standards for higher education and student success after high school. Join us!

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