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June 22, 2014

Across more than 40 states, teachers are aligning their curricula to the Common Core State Standards—K-12 education standards in Mathematics and English Language Arts. A state-led effort often believed to be a federal initiative (it's not), the Common Core has come under increasing scrutiny this past year. According to Stateline, 65 bills have been introduced across the country to delay or halt college- and career-readiness standards.

College- and career-readiness continues to be a pressing issue for K-12 and higher education educators. According to the ACT’s recently released Condition of College & Career Readiness 2013, only 26% of all ACT-tested high school graduates met the College Readiness Benchmarks in English, Reading, Mathematics and Science in 2013. The benchmarks are defined by ACT as the minimum score needed on the ACT subject test to indicate a 50% chance of obtaining a B or higher or about a 75% chance of obtaining a C or higher in corresponding credit-bearing first-year college courses.

With only a quarter of students meeting all these benchmarks, raising academic standards for student achievement is imperative. Yet it has been unclear how higher education as a sector could play a role in promoting student success before students embark on college and career pathways. That changed last week.

Through a new coalition called Higher Ed for Higher Standards, a number of higher education leaders—including chancellors Brit Kirwan and Nancy Zimpher of Maryland, and New York—are supporting college- and career-readiness K-12 standards, including the Common Core State Standards. Members are encouraged to take action steps such as contacting state policymakers about the importance of Common Core State Standards, being vocal about why higher education supports higher standards for young students and reaching out to colleagues across higher education. They are encouraging more Common Core proponents from higher ed to review the group's principles and join the coalition.

This essay originally appeared in the New England Journal of Higher Education.

increasing access and success, new business models, NEBHE, Common Core

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