U.S. Chamber Foundation Urges States to Measure Students’ Career Readiness

September 19, 2016

New Paper Recommends Career Readiness Indicator in Accountability Systems

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation today released a new report detailing how states can include a combined college and career readiness indicator as part of state accountability systems under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), while calling on the business community to play a leadership role in its development and implementation.

The report, titled, “Career Readiness: A Business-Led Approach for Supporting K-12 Schools,” describes this new indicator—College Ready Plus—and outlines ways the business community can support state and district leaders in providing students with an advanced level of preparation for the workplace.

“In the era of ESSA, this is a fantastic opportunity for states to design a robust agenda to help set up more students for success after high school—and business support will be crucial,” said Cheryl Oldham, senior vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Center for Education and Workforce. “As states design their own accountability systems for the 2017-2018 school year, it’s important for the business community to play a leading role in first defining what it means to be career ready and then supporting its application.”

Under the ESSA law, states are now responsible for defining and measuring what success looks like for their students. The U.S. Chamber Foundation urges states to relish this opportunity to build a more competitive workforce by working with the business community to measure career readiness in a meaningful way. Employers should play a leading role in helping states and districts by defining career readiness and proactively involve themselves to ensure it is implemented in a manner consistent with business hiring needs.

The U.S. Chamber Foundation recommends the following ways the business community can support state and district leaders:

  • Manage employer requirements and engagement – The business community should assign its own liaison, embedded in schools or districts, who is responsible for communicating employer partnership requirements for career programs and vetting potential talent.
  • Manage high-quality, work-based learning – The business community should play a leading role in scaling up high-quality, work-based learning opportunities and develop industry-validating processes to ensure that a student who has completed the experience has attained workplace skills.
  • Track the attainment of industry-recognized credentials – Employers should communicate which credentials are required or preferred for hiring purposes and take a leading role in supporting solutions that match student records with credentialing providers.
  • Endorse districts and schools that meet employer requirements – The business community should provide districts and schools with advanced levels of recognition for meeting or exceeding performance measures that matter most to employers and specific industries.
  • Evaluate state and district performance – The business community should hold states and districts accountable for performance against college- and career-readiness indicators. With better tracking of student outcomes, employers will have the necessary information to evaluate and improve their guidance on career readiness activities.

“As states assume the hard work of developing their own accountability systems, we must ask ourselves if we’re doing everything we can to prepare students for the jobs of tomorrow,” said Oldham. “Since the business community depends on our nation’s schools for a skilled and competitive workforce, they need to have a seat at the table and play a more active role in education policy decisions.”

This report is the fourth in a series highlighting demand-driven approaches for chambers and other business associations to address youth unemployment. It is the latest work of the U.S. Chamber Foundation’s broader youth employment initiative, which is focused on closing the skills gap by providing customized tactics for the private sector to develop young talent as part of its overall business strategy.

The full report is available online here.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation is dedicated to strengthening America’s long-term competitiveness. We educate the public on the conditions necessary for business and communities to thrive, how business positively impacts communities, and emerging issues and creative solutions that will shape the future.

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