Academic standards

All states have renewed their efforts to give each child a quality education by evaluating and in many cases overhauling their state education standards. By now, most states have adopted higher College and Career Ready Standards; some have adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), some have opted for a hybrid of the CCSS, and others have created their own standards entirely. Whichever standards your state uses, the goal is the same: to ensure that every child graduates high school ready for college or career. Read more about National PTA’s position on Education Standards.

Academic standards set a goal for what a child should know and be able to do at the end of each grade level, but higher standards cannot stand alone. Quality implementing of the new standards requires aligning new curriculum and assessments, providing professional development for teachers,

 providing sufficient resources and support for students, ongoing communication with parents and balanced and comprehensive accountability systems. PTA’s College and Career Ready Initiative aims to help parents understand each of these components, and help them advocate for needed changes in their state.

Components of CCR

As parents, one of our goals is to make sure our children receive a high school diploma. But – what does this diploma mean? What can students actually accomplish when they graduate? Does the diploma mean they have the skills needed for the next steps in life? Are students actually prepared for college or career?

Unfortunately, the answer more often than not is a resounding, No! In our ever changing world, the educational experience hasn’t kept pace with the demands in a competitive, knowledge-based, technology-driven society:

  • In 2016, only 39% of ACT-tested graduates met three or more of the four ACT College Readiness Benchmarks in English, math, reading and science. One out of three students—34%—did not meet any of the benchmarks, indicating they are ill-prepared in all four core subject areas.
  • Every year in the United States, numerous college students discover that, despite being fully eligible to attend college, they are not ready for post secondary studies. Millions of dollars are spent on remediation course work – classes that are not credit bearing, but cost the same.
  • It is estimated that nearly half of young Americans are unable to join the armed forces. A large contributing factor is poor educational achievement; nearly one-fourth of the students that try to join the military cannot pass the entrance exam.
  • Businesses across the country depend on a highly qualified workforce prepared for jobs in the 21st century. Today’s workplace requires employees to be able to think on their feet, make decisions and solve problems.

College and career-ready high school graduates must have the necessary skills, knowledge and abilities to succeed in life. Parents, families, educators, employers, and policy makers now focus on these skills and knowledge to ensure students receive academic preparation, skills training, life planning, social support and resources. Students are learning critical thinking and reasoning skills necessary to engage in our complex work environments and compete in our global economy. States have adopted higher, more focused standards and aligned assessments to better prepare students for college, technical schools, the military and careers.

College and Career Readiness means that a student is prepared to go directly to work or enroll and succeed – without remediation – in a variety of post secondary institutions so that they are ready to enter a career of their choice.

Components of College and Career Readiness:

  • Academic and Content Knowledge
  • Cognitive and Higher-order Thinking Strategies
  • Social and Emotional Intelligences
  • College and Career Preparedness
  • Employability and Life Skills

Family engagement plays a crucial role in education. PTA advocates as a powerful voice for all children and a relevant resource for families and communities – providing resources to help parents and families support and assist with their child’s education including readiness for college and career. PTA’s focus on college and career readiness supports our mission to make every child’s potential a reality by engaging and empowering families and communities to advocate for all children. By working together to ensure America’s youth are prepared when they graduate high school, we ensure they are ready for life!

State Assessment

Helpful Videos

Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC)

The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) is a group of states working together to develop a set of assessments that measure whether students are on track to be successful in college and their careers. These high quality, computer-based K–12 assessments in Mathematics and English Language Arts/Literacy give teachers, schools, students and parents better information that helps determine whether>  students are on track in their learning and prepared for success after high school, along with providing tools to help teachers customize learning to meet student needs. 

Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC)

The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) is a state-led consortium working to develop next-generation assessments that accurately measure student progress toward college and career readiness. Smarter Balanced states share a commitment to developing a next-generation assessment system aligned to the Standards that provide educators with meaningful feedback and actionable data.

State Assessment Information 

Additional Assessment Links

  • Be A Learning Hero provides parents with the information and resources they need to support their children’s learning and help them be successful in school.
  • Achieve is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit education reform organization dedicated to working with states to raise academic standards and graduation requirements, improve assessments, and strengthen accountability.
  • ACT’s College and Career Readiness System provides a suite of integrated, curriculum-based assessments designed to measure progress over time. The system has components to assess English, math, reading, and science skills, as well as behavioral aspects and career interests.
  • ACT Aspire is a standards-based system of assessments to monitor progress toward college and career readiness from grade 3 through early high school, connecting each grade level to the next.