Some educators are concerned that the measures that are purported to express college and career readiness do not, in fact, have much to do with college and career readiness at all. In our state, New York, the definition of college and career readiness is defined as earning an 80% on a math Regents and a 75% on the ELA Regents. Scores on a couple of state assessments do little to illuminate a student’s readiness for college and career, as we know well. Other measures, other than tested English Language Arts and mathematics test scores, tell us far more about a student’s readiness. We know that employers are looking for the four Cs: Critical thinking and problem solving, effective communication, collaboration and, creativity and innovation. We also know that character traits such as self-direction, persistence, confidence, responsibility, and efficacy have more than a little bit to do with readiness. Yet, we do not assess these skills and attributes, even though they tell us far more about readiness than just two Regents scores.
Contrary to some opinion, the 4Cs and other characteristics can be assessed – if we make the deliberate to shift our assessment priorities toward the things we really value. The Buck Institute of Education has rubrics that can be used. Each student in a New Tech High School is assessed on the College Readiness Assessment (4Cs) twice each year and those data are tracked to present a longitudinal picture of learning and to demonstrate a trajectory toward college and career readiness. There are vendor-prepared assessments that do a better job, too. The College and Work Readiness Assessment is one (CWRA) and the brand new OECD for Schools (based on PISA) is another. Unfortunately, neither of these assessments appears on the state-approved list of 3rd party assessments approved for use in the teacher and principal evaluation system.
Maybe it is time the measures of success become something other than just scores on two state tests. Until now, we’ve conceded accountability territory to NCLB and states tests. Now, the state tests have changed and are now more difficult and are aligned to the Common Core. But we don’t have to concede this – we don’t have to accept the present story of education in our state and nation that is based on narrow tests that don’t necessarily align to college and career readiness. Maybe now, in the midst of the controversy and upset surrounding the lower scores, we can start to write a new story about education, student success, and what it really means to be college and career ready.