Credit: FERMIN LEAL/EDSOURCE TODAY
Aliso Niguel High senior Julia Hopkins (left) and junior Shanice Berry work on an experiment with color platelets during the OC Pathways Showcase in Orange County.

California will issue school and district report cards later this month, but without a key measure – whether students are prepared for college or careers.

The framework of the College and Career Readiness Indicator, or CCI, remains incomplete as the state prepares to release the initial California School Dashboard, a color-coded measure that goes beyond test scores for evaluating the state’s districts and schools.

In a report to the State Board of Education ahead of its meeting Wednesday, state Department of Education officials confirmed the “the initial spring 2017 release of the dashboard does not include the CCI as a state indicator.”

The problem is that state officials have not yet figured out how to measure the highest achievement tier for students, or those who are “Well Prepared” for college and careers. The challenge for state officials is coming up with a system that more equally weighs career readiness and college readiness.

The current version of the CCI evaluates students’ Advanced Placement test scores, Smarter Balanced math and English scores for 11th-graders, whether students are concurrently enrolled in community colleges, whether they have completed a career technical education pathway, whether they have completed courses required for University of California and California State University admission, and other measures.

But the board previously indicated that this version is too focused on students’ success in college preparation. The board instructed state staff to create a more balanced model at a meeting in September.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said then his staff would continue working with educators, researchers, business leaders and other stakeholders to develop a system to better gauge career preparation among California’s high schools. But the superintendent said then that such a model might not be completed before the launch of the new state accountability system.

Determining how well schools prepare students for college and careers is part of the comprehensive redesign of the state’s school accountability system that is replacing the Academic Performance Index, which was primarily an aggregate of test scores.

The new system will again include test scores, but will also incorporate school climate, parent engagement, college and career readiness and other indicators as part of an effort to take a broader look at school improvement, academic achievement and student well-being.

The initial release of the California Dashboard this month will include a supplemental report showing some data for college and career readiness, but it won’t be part of schools’ and districts’ color-coded report cards, officials said.

David Sapp, deputy policy director and assistant legal counsel for the State Board of Education, said there is no timeline for when the formula for measuring “Well Prepared” students in the CCI might be completed.

State officials and educators have said there are not enough consistent metrics to measure career readiness. The quality of career education programs, which can provide students with hands-on learning, mentoring and internships, can vary greatly from one district to another.

The state also currently doesn’t have a system to track students after they’ve completed high school or college to determine if they’ve landed jobs in careers that they were trained for.

“Some states, quite honestly, are farther ahead than we are,” said Donna Wyatt, director of the Career and College Transition Division for California’s education department.

The state will release an updated dashboard this fall that contains more detailed year-over-year comparisons for schools and districts. This dashboard will include the current version of the CCI in schools’ and districts’ report cards, but it won’t contain the “Well Prepared” tier.

Sapp said the lower tiers – or “Prepared,” “Approaching Prepared” and “Not Prepared” – will give parents and educators some sense of how students are faring in college and career readiness. The “Well Prepared” tier will be included in the dashboard at some point in the future, Sapp said.

Nationally, a handful of states have already adopted more far-reaching standards to measure career readiness.

According to a report from Achieve, Inc., a Washington D.C.-based college and career advocacy group, states such as Indiana, Georgia, Delaware and Montana offer among the most comprehensive career readiness indicators, which include measuring the number of students with industry certifications, the percentage of graduates completing work-based learning programs, and the number of graduates placed in occupations directly related to their training.

Donna Wyatt, director of the Career and College Transition Division for California’s education department, which has been working to build the CCI, said last month during the Linked Learning Alliance’s annual conference in Oakland that “some states, quite honestly, are farther ahead than we are.”

She said California is reviewing what other states have implemented to see if California can create similar models.

Wyatt said state officials are also exploring the creation of a state exam for technical skills, and measuring the rate of students who receive certificates or credentials as part of career pathway programs.

Here’s how students now qualify for each achievement tier in the latest version of the CCI:

Well Prepared: To be determined.

Prepared: Complete one of the following from categories 1-6:

  1. Career technical education pathway completion with “C” or better, plus one other measure below:
    • Score at Level 3 on either the math or English sections of the 11th-grade Smarter Balanced Assessment;
    • Complete at least one semester of dual/concurrent enrollment in community college courses.
  2. Score at Level 3 on both the math and English sections of the 11th-grade Smarter Balanced Assessment.
  3. Complete two semesters of dual/concurrent enrollment in community college courses.
  4. Earn a 3 or higher on at least two Advanced Placement (AP) exams.
  5. Pass at least two International Baccalaureate (IB) exams.
  6. Complete the A-G sequence, which are the courses required for UC/CSU admission, plus one other measure below:
    • Complete a Career Technical Education (CTE) Pathway;
    • Score at Level 3 on either the math or English sections of the 11th-grade Smarter Balanced Assessment;
    • Complete at least one semester of dual/concurrent enrollment in community college courses.

Approaching Prepared: Complete one of the following from categories 1-4:

  1. Complete a CTE pathway.
  2. Score at Level 2 on at least one section of the Smarter Balanced Assessments.
  3. Complete one semester of dual/concurrent enrollment in community college courses.
  4. Complete the A-G course sequence.

Not Yet Prepared: Has not met any of the benchmarks above.

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  1. Elein Lacy 2 months ago2 months ago

    I am in Year 12 and now not sure of my choices. I originally wanted to be a nurse but my grades are lower so now not sure what to do. Any advice, please.

  2. vicki ludwig 4 months ago4 months ago

    I am a retired educator. Remember the education system is not a one size fits all. It should provide students with several alternatives to reach the same goal to be a productive employed community member. It also should involve the parents, especially the parents who seem to need help to help their children set goals. Parents’ life experiences may not be able to provide guidance for their children.

  3. Sheila Levin 4 months ago4 months ago

    Schools need to concentrate on preparing students in the math and science fields, as students are pushed through without good understanding of the subjects.

  4. Robert Marshall 4 months ago4 months ago

    I have two teenage boys and the high school system has taught them nothing about how to handle money. Our society is based on a monetary system, and nothing is taught in either my local public high school (San Marin High) or private (Saint Vincent's High) on how to handle money or what costs are involved in supporting ones self. Nothing about saving, investing or just paying basic bills. Kids today mostly … Read More

    I have two teenage boys and the high school system has taught them nothing about how to handle money. Our society is based on a monetary system, and nothing is taught in either my local public high school (San Marin High) or private (Saint Vincent’s High) on how to handle money or what costs are involved in supporting ones self. Nothing about saving, investing or just paying basic bills.
    Kids today mostly do not understand how money gets to their ATM cards. We have moved to a plastic payment method and it is important to teach the kid how the money gets to that plastic card. Because of this, their concept of value is also distorted because they are not pulling bills or coins from their pocket to make a payment. They just swipe the card and don’t even look to see how much it cost them.
    This is a real potential plague that will haunt our society for years.

  5. Marilynn Handelman 4 months ago4 months ago

    I didn't decide what I wanted t be when I grew up until my senior year at Berkeley. I tried several majors before deciding how I could: 1. use my education to help people; 2. use my intellect positively; 3. use my creativity; 4. do something I enjoyed. I became a teacher and taught for 40 years. I have a scrapbook with letters from parents telling me how I helped their … Read More

    I didn’t decide what I wanted t be when I grew up until my senior year at Berkeley. I tried several majors before deciding how I could: 1. use my education to help people; 2. use my intellect positively; 3. use my creativity; 4. do something I enjoyed.
    I became a teacher and taught for 40 years. I have a scrapbook with letters from parents telling me how I helped their children. At 91, I still teach. However, I would hate teaching in a school district now where none of my reasons for wanting to be a teacher are no longer acceptable. I would hate teaching to tests; that is not teaching that is just stuffing information down their throats.
    How can kids ever decide on a career today when none of their creativity, innate intelligence, or manual skills are a part of their schooling?

  6. Malcolm Wentz 4 months ago4 months ago

    I am a recently retired high school assistant principal. I worked at a high performing and an improving high school based upon test scores. More often than not, these reflect socioeconomic demographics and did in our district. At least these scores gave a baseline academic, but did not tell the whole story, of course. You need to look deeper into WASC reports, number of AP classes, Model UN, programs, AVID, band, … Read More

    I am a recently retired high school assistant principal. I worked at a high performing and an improving high school based upon test scores. More often than not, these reflect socioeconomic demographics and did in our district. At least these scores gave a baseline academic, but did not tell the whole story, of course. You need to look deeper into WASC reports, number of AP classes, Model UN, programs, AVID, band, athletics, etc. to get a true picture of a school. How are you going to measure career readiness when most barely know what they want to do? Further, the thrust has been to prepare students for college entrance and hopefully success there. Community colleges provide much more career and specific vocational training and have the funding for auto, tech and other expensive programs that have never been funded in high schools to the degree necessary to provide a proper and current program. Community colleges also prepare many of our late bloomers for transfer to advanced BA type degrees.
    I believe you can measure college readiness by the classes taken, grades attained, AP tests passed, students enrolling/accepted to college, but this is still a number and not a individual student. There is a difference.