March 2016


Improving student success rates begins with increasing college readiness. To support higher education leaders in these efforts,  Higher Ed  for Higher Standards released new materials designed for higher education leaders in support of higher standards and aligned assessments:

Produced in partnership with American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) and Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT), this report shows how collaboration with K-12 to leverage college- and career-ready standards and assessments can better support community college students.

Produced in partnership with National Association of System Heads (NASH) and the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO), this toolkit is designed to position higher ed leaders to be influential players in states that are reviewing or revising their standards and/or assessments.

Higher Ed for Higher Standards presented  at the ACCT Legislative Conference, following the release of the Seizing the Moment report, and also at the Achieving the Dream Institute for Student Success . We will also be presenting at the NASH board meeting and the  AACC Annual Convention  in April, featuring the work of the  Tennessee SAILS  project and others to discuss how to successfully collaborate with K-12 partners to improve student pathways and postsecondary readiness and success.
Community College Leaders:  Share your Work!
In an effort to build a repository of best practices, beginning with the examples highlighted in the Seizing the Moment report, we are asking for community college leaders to fill out this  short survey  to tell us about the work you're doing to improve the pathway from high school to higher ed through collaboration and alignment with K-12.  Let us know the work your institution is doing to align expectations and build a stronger bridge with your local K-12 schools!

In 2016, up to 18 states could conduct a standards review process, potentially putting the important gains from aligning K-12 standards and tests with college-ready expectations at risk. New Jersey has already demonstrated the importance of higher ed's involvement in these decisions.
Earlier this year, the
New Jersey Study Commission on the Use of Student Assessments, including members representing higher education and the business community, released its recommendations , which were  no changes  to 84% of the standards, the continuation  of the PARCC assessments and its use as a graduation requirement, beginning  in 2021.  Notably, the Commission called for institutions of higher education to:
  • Use assessment scores for identifying course placement and enrollment in dual-credit programs.
  • Collaborate with K-12 and the consortium to assess the validity of the assessment and to assist in the development of future tests
The Commission also recommended convening stakeholders in New Jersey's business community to review PARCC assessment item content and gain greater insight into how PARCC assessment results can be useful to them.

For more about how higher education can get involved in your state's review process, check out the   recommendations from National Association of System Heads (NASH), State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO), and Higher Ed for Higher Standards.

Featuring an  interactive 50-state map, New America recently released an important set of new data on states' college readiness policies, updated for the current school year titled, " Mapping College Readiness ." This data, presented through New America's ATLAS tool, maps policies that impact how well each state prepares students to meet the challenges of college and career, along with how well states have leveraged policy to build a bridge between high school and higher education. Since last year's scan of the same policies, the findings suggest that the vast majority of states have not made progress towards strengthening the bridge between high school and college.


The Atlantic explores the impact of remediation on student success, especially for students of color, given that "half of Hispanic college students and nearly a third of Black college students start their higher education paths at community colleges." Michelle Asha Cooper, president of the Institute for Higher Education Policy, calls on higher education to rethink placement: "There can be a variety of reasons for why you didn't do well on your placement test...I think that colleges and universities have to figure out the right way to assess students' readiness ." Higher Ed for Higher Standards recommends using high school assessments as college readiness indicators if they've been validated by higher education. States like Washington, California and Illinois are waiving placement tests for students who achieve college-ready scores while still in high school.

Why are many students with 'A' averages being barred from college-level classes? 
An  article f rom the Hechinger Report asks this question in the face of a new  report  that suggests 40 percent of community college students who had an A average in high school were placed into remedial classes.  86 percent of these students surveyed believed they were prepared for college when they first enrolled, but 67 percent tested into remedial coursework. The lack of clarity for high school students and families about their readiness for college-level coursework continues to present obstacles for student success and persistence to postsecondary education.

Another article from the Hechinger Report elevates the issue of students who score proficient on high school exit exams, yet are deemed not ready for college-level work through the story of one community college student, underscoring the importance of higher standards and aligned assessments to student success in higher education. It also reiterates the role for higher education leaders and faculty to be deeply involved in the design and college-readiness benchmarks established for high school students.


About Higher Ed for Higher Standards


Higher Ed for Higher Standards is a growing coalition of higher education leaders who believe college- and career-ready standards are critical to improving student success. Join us!


Click here to join this mailing list.