Insights and trends

Career readiness standards

  • 36 states (plus DC) have a definition for college and career readiness. However, the majority of state definitions are focused on college readiness with a passing reference to career/workforce readiness. Many of the definitions are outdated or vague.
  • While only 24 states have career readiness standards, 35 states include some sort of career readiness metric in their school accountability system.
  • In all of the states with career readiness standards, Durable Skills are present.

Work-based Learning Framework

  • While many states provide guidance for work-based learning programs, only 22 states have a complete framework that meets our definition.
  • 33 states selected work-based learning for their CTE program quality indicator in their federal Perkins V state plans.
  • A vast majority of states that collect data on WBL use course enrollment as the sole data metric for evaluating its impact.
  • Durable Skills were present in WBL guidance or frameworks in 29 states (plus DC).

Graduation Requirements

  • Graduation requirements related to career readiness are a mixed bag across states. 35 states (plus DC and Puerto Rico) have requirements – or reference them in other content areas.
  • When it comes to setting a high bar for graduation requirements, states are all over. Some are straightforward and consistent with including a robust set of criteria beyond just traditional academic units. Others, however, are part of the “choose your own adventure” models that allow students to meet the requirements in a variety of ways – and not all of them reflect meaningful rigor across the choices.
  • When they do try to “evaluate” whether students have met the requirements, the vast majority of states (plus DC, Puerto Rico, and Guam) use various proxies as indicators (e.g., coursework, assessments, credentials, etc.).

Policy Recommendations

Ensuring students are equipped with the skills required to be successful in college and the workforce is a key priority for states across the country. To do this well, states increasingly recognize the need to integrate objectives, funding streams, and strategies among workforce development and education systems. On the education side, states should establish standards and policies that support the development of Durable Skills in and out of the classroom, transforming the talent pipeline at the source.

The following recommendations are general policy recommendations suggested for every state.

Develop a unified vision for college and career readiness for all students in a state, such as a ‘portrait of a graduate’. Incorporate Durable Skills into the portrait as a key signal to employers that their needs and inputs are valued and that graduates are prepared to meet the demands of a modern workforce.

  • States should be sending a clear message to students, families, and communities (including employers) about what it means to be “ready” for success in both college and career.
  • Identify a clear definition for readiness.

Identify the metrics that can be used to determine student acquisition of Durable Skills.

  • Metrics should be embedded in relevant college and career-ready projects, experiences, and opportunities, including work-based learning.
  • Students should be able to demonstrate their competency in Durable Skills through a range of experiences and assessment opportunities.

Collect, connect, and report on how well students are progressing toward being ready for success after high school.

  • Expand on definitions of readiness (as data metrics) and incorporate additional metrics such as Durable Skills into regular reporting to parents and families.