December 2015



Over the past year, higher ed leaders across the country have offered critical support for more rigorous standards and assessments.
  • National higher ed organizations made public commitments to improving student success by supporting higher standards, as represented by our joint statement with NASH and SHEEO, as well as our recently announced partnership with AACC and ACCT.
  • Through the Proficient Means Prepared campaign, higher ed leaders in more than 10 states reiterated support for higher standards during the release of scores for the new, standards-based assessments, using our communications toolkit.

Looking ahead to 2016, Higher Ed for Higher Standards will continue to support higher education leaders in their work to improve student success. We will:
  • Increase commitment to further alignment with K-12. Working with our many national higher ed partners, we will shine the spotlight on systems and institutions that have already embraced higher K­-12 standards as part of their alignment work, and we'll launch new efforts to grow the number of places that are making this a priority. 
  • Amplify the voice of higher ed. In 2015, over 770 bills were introduced in state legislatures that addressed college and career readiness, up from 375 in 2014. The voice of higher ed continues to be critical for higher K-12 standards as the ultimate arbiter of what it means to be ready for college and careers.
  • Position higher ed as a validator of quality K-12 standards and assessments.
    As states across the country undergo formal reviews of their K-12 standards and others consider adopting or adapting new assessments, it is vital that higher education be involved in the decisions so that the expectations remain high enough to ensure college readiness and success.
Higher ed leadership is all the more important now that Congress just passed the Every Student Succeeds Act, which shifts much more authority and accountability back to the states, largely replacing No Child Left Behind. State policymakers are likely to be even more active in revisiting their approach to standards, assessments, accountability, and other policies affecting college and career readiness. Proactive partnerships with K-12 leaders will help ensure that K-12 and postsecondary expectations remain aligned and that all students have the opportunity to attend ---  and thrive in ---  college.

In early 2016, Higher Ed for Higher Standards will release a toolkit with specific advice for how higher ed leaders can most effectively engage in these ongoing debates. 


Calling  Kentucky "a story of innovation and collaboration" for the work of the state's postsecondary education institutions, Terry Holiday, retired Commissioner of Education, attests that "staying the course" reaps benefits for students. After higher ed leaders reached consensus on measures and benchmark levels for student performance that would indicate college readiness, Kentucky went from 30 percent of students meeting college readiness benchmarks in 2009 to 67 percent in 2015.

In a recent letter to the editor, Mitchell Chester, Massachusetts Commissioner of Education, reaffirmed the importance of both higher standards and K-12's involvement in the development of new, aligned assessments. Former Massachusetts Commissioner of Higher Education Richard Freeland and Commissioner of K-12 Education Robert Antonucci spoke out earlier this year at an event hosted by The Boston Foundation. Freeland and John Davis, Chairman and CEO of the American Saw and Manufacturing Company, subsequently published an op-ed in the Boston Globe citing high remediation rates and an increasingly globalized business environment in support of assessments aligned to higher standards. An  editorial  (subscribers only) in the Boston Business Journal also argued that businesses should "face the future" and support assessments aligned to more rigorous standards in the face of troubling remediation rates.


Business Community Supports Standards and Assessments 

John Engler, President of the Business Roundtable and former Michigan Governor, urged states to "stay the course" to increase the number of students prepared for college and careers.

In New Mexico, the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce voiced its support for more rigorous standards and aligned assessments. Making the comparison between a new product release and this year's assessment scores, these business leaders know that a new test may require "fine-tuning" but provides "a more accurate representation of our students' performance."
Fordham: "Moment of Truth" in RI

As states continue to release scores for the new, more rigorous K-12 assessments, the importance of higher standards becomes even more evident. In the  Providence Journal , Michael J. Petrilli and Robert Pondiscio connect  the importance of higher expectations and increased college readiness, citing the fact that two-thirds of Rhode Island students who enter the state's community colleges must take remedial courses when they arrive on campus.


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!

Click here to join this mailing list.