Closing the Expectations Gap: 2013 Annual Report on the Alignment of State K–12 Policies and Practice with the Demands of College and Careers

This eighth edition of Achieve’s annual report monitoring states’ adoption of core academic expectations arrives at a critical moment—and underscores the mammoth challenges associated with standards implementation. As in years past, the report summarizes states’ policies in four domains: the adoption and successful implementation of college-and-career-ready (CCR) standards (including but not limited to the Common Core), graduation requirements (considered CCR if graduating students are required to complete a course of study aligned with quality standards), assessments (which must align with CCR standards and have credibility with postsecondary institutions), and accountability (a set of indicators that measure college and career readiness). In each area, Achieve outlines a model strategy and highlights states with practices that align with these recommendations. The report begins optimistically: currently, all fifty states and the District of Columbia have adopted CCR standards, and thirty-seven states report that they will have implemented those standards by the present school year. But the report also correctly emphasizes that the existence of standards is not sufficient to achieve their purpose. The combination of standards, graduation requirements, assessments, and accountability is greater than the sum of its parts. Depressingly, not a single state has integrated all of Achieve’s indicators into an accountability system, and only a handful have properly implemented the remaining three categories. Nearly half the states have neither CCR-aligned graduation requirements nor a CCR assessment. This report tempers initial optimism that CCR standards will be effectively implemented in the current or next school year, no matter what the states assert. Note, too, that what Achieve is tallying is the mere existence of policies and practices, not their quality.

SOURCE: Achieve, Closing the Expectations Gap: 2013 Annual Report on the Alignment of State K–12 Policies and Practice with the Demands of College and Careers (Washington, D.C.: Achieve, 2013).

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