The Intersection of Career Readiness and School Accountability
States and districts continue to explore how best to define and measure both college and career readiness. These efforts could now get a boost with introduction of a new indicator and support from the business community.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Center for Education and Workforce issued a new report on September 19 calling for states to adopt a “College Ready Plus” indicator that incorporates college and career readiness into state accountability systems.
The report urges the business community to take a lead role putting the indicator in place by engaging more directly with schools, manage work-based learning opportunities, and track industry-recognized credentials.
“We want to have the business community in all 50 states trying to engage meaningfully in these conversations,” said Jason Tyszko, executive director of the Center for Education and Workforce.
Tyszko, the author of the report, outlined College Ready Plus during an event that included panel discussions with education and industry leaders.
College Ready Plus calls for the following:
- Academic proficiency and workforce readiness assessments;
- A college and career plan;
- And at least one of the following: work-based learning, career-related coursework tied to dual credit, and industry-recognized credentialing.
The push for the new indicator comes in response to the reauthorization of the Every Student Succeeds Act (formerly No Child Left Behind) which calls on states to measure what success looks like for students.
“We need to make sure that whether we’re doing this at the national level or the state level, the business community has a voice and is holding school districts accountable for doing what they claim to do around career readiness,” Tyszko said.
Many companies and chambers of commerce are already engaged with schools on career and college readiness. They said that including readiness indicators as part of accountability systems is a key step toward closing the skills gap that has left many employers unable to find qualified help.
“When we go into schools, we become the voice of businesses,” said Kim Kuchenbrod, a workforce development consultant with Vermilion Advantage, which represents businesses in East Central Illinois. “We’re there to help recruit students into those [career and technology education] pathways.”
Business leaders said they welcome any chance to highlight a school system’s efforts to make students more ready for the workforce.
“In Tennessee, we have some strong and robust career and technical education programs, and what our business community tells us is the impact of those graduates,” said Candy Johnson, director of policy at the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce. “They’re better prepared than those graduates who solely have an academic focus.”