chalkbeat explains

Chalkbeat Explains

College readiness

“College and career readiness” is education-speak for the new goal for what students should accomplish by the end of high school. High schools were long seen to have met basic expectations if their students completed the requirements to graduate. But a growing realization that a high school diploma does not guarantee students success in college has led schools, districts, and politicians to set their sites on more distant horizons. A recent report traces the term back to a 2005 book by the University of Oregon professor David Conley, who wrote that students need college-preparatory skills both to succeed academically after high school and to succeed in the workforce, whether they attend college or not.

New York City officials have embraced the concept and the term, citing lagging college readiness numbers to justify several policy initiatives, including new teacher evaluations and the rollout of the Common Core standards. They have also streamlined data-sharing between CUNY and the Department of Education to allow for more accurate tracking of students after high school. And they have begun judging high schools not only by their graduation rates but by their college and career readiness rates, as well. College-readiness numbers inched up in 2013, but only time will tell whether the new focus augurs long-term changes in students’ preparation for life after high school.


President Obama, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and city officials alike have all made "college and career readiness" a centerpiece of their education agendas. Whether it improves outcomes for students across the board will be the test.


  • 31.4 percent: New York City's "college readiness rate" in 2013, according to city statistics
  • 70 percent: college readiness rate for students on the Upper East Side in 2011
  • 13 percent: college readiness rate for students in East Harlem in 2011