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Millikan High juniors review SAT problems during a recent lesson at their Long Beach campus.

A new metric to evaluate how well California high schools prepare students for college and careers could include everything from Advanced Placement scores and career technical education enrollment figures to the number of bilingual graduates.

State education officials are considering at least a dozen elements as they create California’s first tool to gauge college and career readiness at high schools, a component that would meet new guidelines set by both the federal Every Student Succeeds Act and the state’s Local Control Funding Formula.

The state Board of Education earlier this month voted to direct Department of Education staff to develop a college and career readiness metric that could be adopted in September and implemented in the 2017-18 school year.

“We all agree this is an important one. We should figure out what all it should contain,” said board member Trish Williams. “It could give a picture of what a school is doing to provide a lot of opportunities for a lot of diverse needs of the kids.”

State Department of Education officials are expected to offer a preliminary version of the college and career readiness metric when the Board of Education meets July 13-14. Board members have also said it’s likely any adopted metric would be updated in coming years as more research on how to best measure college and career readiness becomes available.

Work on a so-called “college and career indicator” actually began in 2014 as the state transitioned to the Common Core State Standards, which list as a primary goal preparing more students for college and careers. But it was unclear when or how the metric could be implemented until last week, when the Board of Education decided the time had come for the state to create a new comprehensive school accountability system to replace the Academic Performance Index. The API primarily used state test scores to measure school quality. For high schools, the API also included graduation rates, but no other element related to college and career readiness.

“It could give a picture of what a school is doing to provide a lot of opportunities for a lot of diverse needs of the kids,” said Trish Williams, State Board of Education.

Over the past two years, consultants and committees have studied what a college and career readiness metric should include, with the underlying goal of developing a system that is “reliable and fair to all schools,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson.

In a February memo to the Board of Education, Torlakson outlined a series of measures his department had reviewed for possible inclusion in the new metric. Here are some of those options:

  • The number of Advanced Placement courses offered at a school
  • The percentage of students who take AP exams
  • The percentage of students who take the college entrance exams
  • The percentage of students who complete the A-G coursework, the sequence of 15 classes in math, science, English, foreign language and other core subjects that are required for admission into the California State or University of California systems
  • The number of Career Technical Education courses offered at a school
  • The percentage of students at a school who complete some CTE courses
  • The percentage of students at a school who are concurrently enrolled in college credit courses at a community college
  • The percentage of students at a school who graduate with a Seal of Biliteracy, meaning they are certified as bilingual in English and another language

The new metric could include some or all of these elements, or it could incorporate others that officials have not yet studied, officials said. The challenge until now has been building a metric that takes into account the different goals prioritized across California’s high schools, the department’s Deputy Superintendent Keric Ashley told board members earlier this month.

“Some schools are more focused on sending kids to a college or university. Other schools are more focused on sending kids into either a career immediately or into a training program,” he said. “We would not want to advantage or disadvantage schools in a system trying to use these different elements.”

Additionally, some educators have warned that relying too heavily on AP, SAT and ACT data could unfairly hurt high schools in rural and low-income communities, which traditionally have fewer AP course offerings and where participation rates in college entrance exams are generally lower.

Ashley has said that measuring the quality of technical education courses and career pathways across schools might also present a challenge because the state has no uniform audit to ensure the quality of these types of programs.

“All CTE pathways aren’t the same. Some require just two courses, others have three or four,” he said. “There is some unevenness in the degree of scrutiny in the data (schools) report to us.”

David Conley, who served as director of the Education Policy Improvement Center, a group contracted by the state in 2014 to study the creation of a college and career readiness metric, also looked at AP, ACT and SAT exam results as possible elements to include.

But Conley now says that because many schools had a majority of students who did not take these tests, the scores would not be the most reliable measure for statewide comparisons.

Instead, Conley said, a better measure is a school’s “course-taking behavior” — an evaluation based on the rate of students enrolled in courses that have been accredited or audited to show they prepare students for postsecondary options.

In California, these courses would generally be AP courses, which are audited by the College Board; and the A-G coursework, which is regularly audited by the UC system to ensure that the courses comply with the system’s rigorous admissions standards.

Another option, Conley said, was a measure of the rate of students enrolled in Career Technical Education pathways that directly lead to certificates or associate degrees, or the rate of students who transfer to four-year universities to pursue technical careers. However, Conley also said that the process for vetting the quality of some of those programs still remains inconsistent.

Michael Matsuda, superintendent at Anaheim Union High School District, said much of the discussion surrounding a new metric has focused largely on college readiness, leaving the career readiness piece mostly as an afterthought.

“When you talk to the business folks about what they’re looking for in prospective employees, they’re not talking about SAT scores,” he said. “They want students who are able to communicate clearly and have an ability to think critically and problem solve. I’m not sure how many of these college readiness metrics can really measure some of these skills.”

Matsuda said some programs in Anaheim Union high schools teach students how to interview in a job application setting and how to find internships in career fields they’re interested in. The district also teams students with professional mentors, who help guide them into technical training programs.

“For these students, how valid can an SAT score be in predicting career success?” he said.

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  1. Brian W 8 months ago8 months ago

    I could have a College and Career Readiness Assessment/Evaluation ready for the 2017-2018 school year for about 1/100th the cost you are currently spending on it.

    The swamp needs draining.

    Replies

    • John Fensterwald 8 months ago8 months ago

      Please elaborate for our readers, Brian. I’m sure they would be interested in your solution.

  2. Susan Stuart 1 year ago1 year ago

    Without having some type of standardized test of basic skills that is required for students to graduate, we will soon be graduating students who possess skills at only 2nd grade level--and now, not only the Special Ed students. Under NCLB, did we have too much testing? Absolutely, we did. But having an exit exam was a good thing. It ensured students had basic skills before they were awarded diplomas. The … Read More

    Without having some type of standardized test of basic skills that is required for students to graduate, we will soon be graduating students who possess skills at only 2nd grade level–and now, not only the Special Ed students. Under NCLB, did we have too much testing? Absolutely, we did. But having an exit exam was a good thing. It ensured students had basic skills before they were awarded diplomas. The diplomas meant something.

    I teach in a correctional facility in which high school students’ skills average about 5th grade level. Students are not very motivated, teachers feel pressured to award them credits for minimal work, and we have terrible grade inflation. Students struggled to pass the CAHSEE, but it motivated them to work because they wanted their diplomas–at least, some students did. Now the CAHSEE is gone, with no replacement. This will result in the opposite of “No Child Left Behind.” I predict this will result in “Most Poor Kids Left Behind.”

  3. Luis Sandoval 1 year ago1 year ago

    Great, about time we look at something real and have a better statistical view of what we are doing in education?

  4. Deborah R. Holliman 1 year ago1 year ago

    A good plan of how it should be done immediately. Thanks for sharing posts

  5. Michael Thier 1 year ago1 year ago

    Superintendent Matsuda makes a very important point. Career readiness is often treated as an after-thought in conversations about systems of accountability; career readiness can provide more immediate and long-term utility for many students. College should be an option for all students, and no individual or system should create access barriers that hinder any student who is looking to attend college. Regardless of the standardized test results, schools should help every student interested in college make … Read More

    Superintendent Matsuda makes a very important point. Career readiness is often treated as an after-thought in conversations about systems of accountability; career readiness can provide more immediate and long-term utility for many students. College should be an option for all students, and no individual or system should create access barriers that hinder any student who is looking to attend college. Regardless of the standardized test results, schools should help every student interested in college make that path a reality. However, we harm students when we position college as a required stop on every student’s path. When we treat college as the one definition of success, we don’t serve the diversity of student needs and aspirations. I worked with EPIC on the study referenced in this article and worked on another paper that examined the systematic bias toward college as the singular definition of success. Perhaps this paper might help educators and other school stakeholders think about alternatives to the college or bust mentality that limits students’ possible futures.

  6. Brian Ausland 1 year ago1 year ago

    Fred's comments are spot on (as usual)...I would merely add that in addition to the current 10 CTEIG performance indicators, we also have the 11 Elements of a High Quality CTE Program (of which the 10 CTEIG perf. indic. were derived from) that have been in place since 2008 along with the CA CTE Standards and Frameworks which were funded and developed at great lengths in 2005. Yet the primary contractor cited in this article … Read More

    Fred’s comments are spot on (as usual)…I would merely add that in addition to the current 10 CTEIG performance indicators, we also have the 11 Elements of a High Quality CTE Program (of which the 10 CTEIG perf. indic. were derived from) that have been in place since 2008 along with the CA CTE Standards and Frameworks which were funded and developed at great lengths in 2005. Yet the primary contractor cited in this article and the related report that was generated by their research for the CDE ended up being a description of existing Career Readiness assessments such as the ASVAB, WorkKeys, and NOCTI, and did not tie in any of this existing work already done at tax payers expense. Not to mention that we (State of CA) have also recently funded the regional CTEIG-Technical Assistance Centers (7 different offices across the state, each with their own list of counties to monitor and support) to the tune of a quarter million (Butte Co.) to a half million (LA Co.) per office which provides a mechanism to validate the existing performance indicators. Let’s see: indicators of quality CTE programming by school site…CHECK. Impetus for sites to gather data and report out via CTEIG funding and existing annual Perkins reporting…CHECK. System to monitor and gather data and report to state via CTEIG Tech. Assistance Centers…CHECK. Yet, Deputy Supt. Ashley says, “…the state has no uniform audit to ensure the quality of these types of programs.” Hmmmm?
    Hey Fred, I heard the Director of Career and College Transition Division is open, how about it? Please!

  7. Fred Jones 1 year ago1 year ago

    Given the CDE has been under statutory mandate for the past three years to develop career readiness performance indicators, it's simply amazing they haven't even been able to define "career readiness" (let alone develop measurable criteria -- other than course enrollment). Everyone knows what "college readiness" requires at bare minimum: A-G completion with C-grade or better and decent SAT scores ... done! It's way past time for the state to start providing districts equally clear direction as … Read More

    Given the CDE has been under statutory mandate for the past three years to develop career readiness performance indicators, it’s simply amazing they haven’t even been able to define “career readiness” (let alone develop measurable criteria — other than course enrollment).

    Everyone knows what “college readiness” requires at bare minimum: A-G completion with C-grade or better and decent SAT scores … done!

    It’s way past time for the state to start providing districts equally clear direction as to “career readiness” indicators. And there are easy, off-the-shelf options that have been readily available ever since the federal Perkins grants have been given to our state (dating back to the early ’90s). Moreover, the current state CTE Incentive Grant’s 10 performance indicators (e.g., actively engaged Industry Advisory Committees, student leadership organizations — CTSO’s, sequenced coursework, industry certifications, etc.) provide an excellent list.

    So, it’s not a question of what to measure … it’s seems more like a lack of will on the part of state leaders to set clear benchmarks for districts to publicly report about their efforts to prepare all of their students for their future careers (including those going onto 4-year college following secondary school).

    Replies

    • Kim 1 year ago1 year ago

      Hear, hear! It seems extremely contradictory to set a goal (career and college ready) and then refuse to define it or measure it!