College-Ready Standards
Education Commission of the States • 700 Broadway, Suite 810 • Denver, CO 80203-3442 • 303.299.3600 • Fax: 303.296.8332 • www.ecs.org

College-Ready Standards

In an effort to better prepare students for post-high school study and work, states are increasing expectations of high school students and using assessments to determine if such students are on the way to college readiness.

College/Employer Recommended Curriculum: Very few states have adopted high school graduation requirements that prepare students to enter postsecondary education or entry-level employment. Among the potential gaps:

  • The number of units and/or the specific courses required for high school graduation are not aligned with those required for college admissions.

  • The content is not challenging enough or does not adequately address the skills to prepare students for postsecondary coursework or on-the-job demands.

  • Students have completed most of their course requirements by the beginning or middle of their senior year and are not taking other courses to retain their knowledge and skills during those last months before college or work.
A growing body of recent research (see, for example, Achieve's 2004 report Ready or Not: Creating a High School Diploma That Counts) stresses that postsecondary entrance requirements are well-aligned, if not identical, to the skill levels required by employers for entry-level workers.

Many colleges and employers recommend that states mandate a high school curriculum for all students that includes the following:
4 units English
3 units math, including Algebra I and II and geometry
3 units lab science
3 units social studies

State requires all students to take ACT/SAT: A handful of states require all students, regardless of their post-high school aspirations, to take the ACT or SAT. Such policies are viewed as mechanisms to encourage more students to apply to college, and as exams that students will take more seriously than traditional state assessments.

College-Readiness Rates: These data are drawn from the February 2005 Manhattan Institute report Public High School Graduation and College-Readiness Rates: 1991-2002 by Jay P. Greene, Ph.D. and Marcus A. Winters. Students had to meet three criteria to be defined "college-ready" in the study: (1) Graduate from high school with a regular diploma; (2) Have completed four years of English, three years of math, and two years each of natural science, social science, and foreign language; and (3) score at the basic level or above on the NAEP reading assessment.

This database was compiled by Jennifer Dounay, project manager, ECS High School Policy Center. For questions, additions or corrections: 303.299.3689 or jdounay@ecs.org.

College/employer recommended curriculum mandated for all students State requires all students to take ACT or SAT Manhattan Institute college-readiness rate (2002) Sources
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
District of Columbia
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
Federal Law
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming
American Samoa
Guam
Puerto Rico
Virgin Islands

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