A Note from the Superintendent’s Desk – Defining College, Career, and Life Readiness – A New Approach

Dr. Darcy Benway District 203

Dr. Darcy Benway
District 203

How do we know whether high school students are ready for the challenge of college or careers upon graduation?  According to the Illinois School Report Card, college readiness is defined as having an ACT score of 21 or greater.  It is my belief, and the belief of superintendents across the country, that one standardized test score is not a valid representation of a student’s potential success upon graduation.

It is understandable that high schools must be held accountable for the career and college readiness of its students, but the current measure of readiness as determined by a single, standardized test score does not seem to accurately evaluate the future performance of students.  A more holistic approach would be to include other research-based factors in the assessment of college and career readiness.  With the adoption of the Every Student Succeeds Act, the opportunity to “redefine ready” is upon parents, teachers, school leaders, school boards, communities, and advocacy organizations.
Dan Domenech, the executive director of the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) and Dr. David R. Schuler, AASA President and Superintendent of Township High School District 214 in Arlington Heights started the “Redefining Ready” campaign, a new approach intended to determine college and career readiness through a multi-metric, research based approach.  According to the Redefining Ready publication prepared by the AASA, “Students learn in a variety of ways.  Therefore, they should be able to demonstrate readiness in a variety of ways.”

The AASA research asserts that students are college ready if they meet either the academic indicators OR standardized testing benchmarks listed in Table A.

Table A

Table A

Research further asserts that students are career ready if they have identified a career interest and meet two of the behavioral and experiential benchmarks listed in Table B.

Table B

Table B

Finally, AASA also looks at a student’s life readiness.  Being “life-ready” per the AASA definition means: “Students must leave high school with the grit and perseverance to tackle and achieve their goals.  Students who

are life ready possess the growth mindset that empowers them to approach their future with confidence to dream big and to achieve big.”

At OTHS, we will continue to focus on the main three readiness areas as defined by the AASA in order to prepare students for the challenges ahead.  The OTHS graduating class of 2016 self-reported that 89 percent would be attending a 2-year or 4-year college this fall. Five percent of graduates identified that they would be entering the military.  One percent planned on going straight to the workforce, with the remaining five percent as undecided.  Life ready skills are more difficult to evaluate, however, OTHS is confident that it provides the extracurricular opportunities, social and emotional supports, and relevant experiences to assist students in developing the life readiness skills needed upon graduation.  OTHS is proud of the successes achieved by our students in their post-high school endeavors.