College & Career Readiness

Overview Michael Marriott

College & Career Readiness

Among school reformers, “college readiness” has become a rallying cry. But what does it mean, and how does career readiness factor in?

From a wide range of education advocacy groups, associations, think tanks, and state and federal policymakers, one now hears a remarkably consistent message about the purpose of public education: The most critical mission for K-12 schools is to prepare students for higher education. Among school reformers, “college readiness” has become a rallying cry.

Why the newfound sense of agreement, after generations of constant wrangling over the mission of the schools? Today’s young people cannot hope to find decent jobs and earn middle class wages, goes the current thinking, unless they have completed at least a couple of years of postsecondary education. And the country as a whole cannot hope to keep up with China, India, and other foreign competitors unless it greatly expands its college-educated workforce.

However, there’s a wide gap between the numbers of young people who aspire to get a college degree and the numbers that actually do so. For example, among students who enrolled for the first time at four-year colleges in 2001, only 56 percent had earned a degree six years later (and rates were considerably lower among minority and low-income students in particular). The evidence suggests that “somewhere between a third and a half of high school graduates leave high school prepared with a reasonable chance to succeed in college,” according to one study. This Topics section examines what “college readiness” means and what the pursuit of this goal means for reporters who cover education.

College Readiness: Why Now?

If it’s true that higher education has become absolutely critical to individual and societal well-being (and, of course, not everybody agrees with that premise), then the need for much greater K-12 achievement and, in turn, much greater college access, enrollment, and degree completion would seem to be so urgent that all other educational priorities pale in comparison. Thus, rather than continuing to ask the schools to pursue too many and often conflicting purposes, the college-readiness benchmark enables reformers to focus their efforts on a single, coherent goal, emphasizing rigorous college preparation for all students.

Skeptics question whether all of this fuss about college readiness is anything more than the latest in a very long list of educational fads that have come and gone. But for enthusiasts, the current round of reforms seems palpably different. This time, they argue, we truly are in the midst of a seismic—and maybe permanent—shift in Americans’ thinking about the purpose of public schools.

The idea that all students (and not just the talented few, or the children of the elite) can and should pursue a rigorous academic course of study has been gathering momentum over the past few decades (particularly since the publication of A Nation at Risk, in 1983). And in 2010, with the publication of the Common Core State Standards, the majority of state policymakers agreed, for the first time in history, to install a genuinely college-preparatory curriculum as the default option for every student.

What is “College Readiness”?

But what does “college readiness” mean, exactly? In one sense, students become “ready” to enroll in college as soon as they acquire a diploma from an accredited high school (or earn a Graduate Equivalency Degree). Of course, numerous critics have noted that the existing credential-based definition of readiness doesn’t ensure that students learn anything in the process. It would be far better, the argument goes, to define readiness as the ability to do college-level work, regardless of whether the students have reached a certain age or acquired a certain number of course credits.

However, short of dropping students into a first-year undergraduate class to see how they perform, colleges have no choice but to rely on some sort of proxy (or “indicator,” as researchers like to say) for readiness, whether it takes the form of a high school diploma, test scores, course transcripts, letters of reference, or a combination of such indicators. Which is to say the meaning of “college readiness” inevitably come around to the questions of how best to measure and certify students’ knowledge and skills.

A growing body of evidence suggests that students’ high school grade point averages (especially in core academic classes) provide perhaps the best information about how well students are likely to do in college courses. But even so, the ability to predict a student’s college success remains weak, with high school GPA taking away only a modest portion of the guesswork. Further, researchers caution that the more weight is placed on high school GPA, the more grade inflation is likely to occur, which would reduce the measure’s usefulness.

Of course, one could ask professors which skills they consider vital for first-year students to have. One major three-year study, involving more than 400 faculty and administrators at 20 universities, found that faculty in all departments tend to view two overarching academic skills—the ability to write well and the ability to select and use appropriate research methods—as critical to students’ success. Additionally, faculty said that some narrower kinds of knowledge and skill are important in their specific subject area classes. English professors, for example, focused on the ability to analyze and interpret literature, and math professors argued that students need a solid grounding in algebra.

Some analyses of student transcripts, test scores, and actual college performance suggest also that it is critical for high school students to complete an intellectually demanding core curriculum, to do well in high-level math and science courses (including Algebra II, at a minimum), and to become adept at reading and making sense of various kinds of sophisticated, complex texts.

Much of the research to date has aimed to identify and measure the specific academic skills (such as reading comprehension, writing, and the ability to solve quadratic equations) that contribute to the success of first-year college students. However, University of Oregon researcher David Conley—one of the leading figures in this field—has found that a variety of other factors (including intellectual habits of mind, such as inquisitiveness; self-management skills, such as budgeting sufficient time for assignments; and knowledge about higher education, such as understanding how to choose an appropriate college) have at least as much influence on college students’ success as do the purely academic factors on which most researchers have focused.

“College and Career Readiness”

And then there is the question of whether “college readiness” and “college and career readiness” are the same thing. The frequent pairing of those terms is fairly ambiguous, however. The call to pursue both kinds of readiness, simultaneously, could be taken to mean that these two distinct goals ought be viewed as equally important. A policymaker might stress college and career readiness in order to persuade the public to support both a rigorous college-prep education and robust workforce preparation programs (such as Career and Technical Education courses of study, Career Academies, or so-called 2+2 programs, which bridge high schools and two-year technical training courses).

Usually, though, the conflation of college and career readiness is meant to reinforce the idea that because of the rise of the global, information-based economy, the skills that young people need to succeed in rewarding careers are, in fact, the same skills that are needed to succeed in college—e.g., the ability to communicate effectively, to work in teams, and to reason logically.

Recently, however, some scholars and organizations have challenged the notion that the demands of college and the workforce are one and the same. For example, the Association for Career and Technical Education has argued that while some of the core academic skills may overlap, careers tend to require much more experience in and understanding of how to apply academic content, as well as various “employability skills” and specific “technical skills” that college-prep curricula rarely emphasize.

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Blog: The Educated Reporter Lori Crouch

USC Charter School Sets Students’ Sights on College

The waiting list to get into USC Hybrid High College Prep in downtown Los Angeles is long – about two students for every one admitted – and so is the commute for many of the students who go there. An hour-and-a-half each way by bus or car isn’t uncommon.

EWA Radio George Dieter

Go West, Young Students: California’s Free Community College Boom
EWA Radio: Episode 114

Ashley Smith of Inside Higher Ed discusses why the Golden State is leading the nation in free community college initiatives. Currently, a quarter of all such programs nationally are located at California institutions. The growth is a mix of grassroots efforts by individual campuses, cities, and community organizations. At the same time, California’s Democratic lawmakers are pushing for a statewide effort to add even more free seats at two-year colleges.

Blog: The Educated Reporter Lori Crouch

What Does Charter School Innovation Look Like?

At Summit Public Schools campuses, you won’t see PowerPoint lectures on “Antigone” in English class or witness lofty explanations of the Pythagorean theorem in geometry. Instead, you’ll hear a discussion about the morals and ethics in the ancient Greek tragedy tied to students’ own teenage identity formation and observe discussions on how real-life problem-solving skills can be applied to math.

Blog: The Educated Reporter Elizabeth Thorne

For Trump Pick DeVos, Confirmation Hearing Is a Bear

Tuesday’s confirmation hearing for billionaire school advocate Betsy DeVos — President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for U.S. secretary of education — was a doozy.

DeVos sought to present herself as ready to oversee the federal agency, but some of her remarks suggested a lack of familiarity with the federal laws governing the nation’s schools.

In her opening statement before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, DeVos said:

EWA Radio Erik Robelen

Students Can’t Recognize Fake News. That’s a Problem.
EWA Radio: Episode 103

Benjamin Herold of Education Week discusses why media literacy is in the spotlight in the wake of the presidential election, and the troubling findings of a new Stanford University study that showed the vast majority of students from middle school through college can’t identify “fake news.” Why are so many digital natives flunking when it comes to evaluating the reliability of material they encounter online? How are policymakers, researchers, and educators proposing that schools address this deficit in critical-thinking skills?

EWA Radio Allison Kowalski

‘Unprepared’ in Memphis: The Realities of College Readiness
EWA Radio: Episode 99

In a new series, Memphis Commercial Appeal reporter Jennifer Pignolet tells the story of Shelby County students working hard to make it to college — and to succeed once they arrive. And their challenges aren’t just financial: for some, like Darrius Isom of South Memphis, having reliable transportation to get to class on time is a game changer. And what are some of the in-school and extracurricular programs that students say are making a difference? Pignolet also looks at the the Tennessee Promise program, which provides free community college classes to qualified students, and assigns a mentor to help guide them. 

THANKSGIVING BONUS: EWA journalist members share some of the things they’re grateful for this year. 

Blog: The Educated Reporter Caroline Hendrie

How Will Education Fare Under President Trump?

The long, strange election cycle came to an end Tuesday with the election of Donald Trump as the next president. And while his campaign platform was scarce on education policy details, there’s no question his administration will have a significant impact, from early childhood to K-12 and higher education.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat Michael Marriott

A Push for More Latino College Graduates in Texas, but Not by ‘Business as Usual’

Latino children will “pretty much determine the fate of Texas” during the 21st century, the state’s Higher Education Commissioner Raymund Paredes said in his annual address this week.

That’s why the state will need to get more creative in educating Latinos and ensuring they graduate from college. “Doing business as usual,” won’t work, he said, according to the Austin American-Statesman

EWA Radio Michael Marriott

Why Appalachian Colleges Want More Latino Students
EWA Radio: Episode 95

Timothy Pratt of The Hechinger Report discusses why liberal arts colleges in Appalachia are making Latino student recruiting a top priority. A 2016 EWA Reporting Fellow, Pratt recently completed an in-depth reporting project on the implications of this shift for private colleges — many of which are struggling to keep enrollment counts up.

Blog: The Educated Reporter Lori Crouch

More Students Are Graduating, But That’s Not the Whole Story

As federal education officials tout a fourth consecutive year of improvement in the nation’s high school graduation rate, the reactions that follow are likely to fall into one of three categories: policymakers claiming credit for the gains; critics arguing that achievement gaps are still far too wide to merit celebrating; and policy wonks warning against misuses of the data.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat Allison Kowalski

Programs Providing ‘Excelencia’ in Latino Education

The Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit Excelencia in Education has released its annual list of college programs and community groups that are effectively supporting the educational advancement of Latino students in higher education, or “Examples of ¡Excelencia!“ 

Here’s a look at this year’s honorees.

Pathway to the Baccalaureate Program, Northern Virginia Community College

EWA Radio Caroline Hendrie

Same As It Ever Was: The Pitfalls of Remedial Education
EWA Radio: Episode 88

Pixabay/Karsten Paulick

Millions of high school graduates show up for the first day of college academically unprepared for the rigors of higher ed. And that’s where remedial (or “developmental”) education comes into play. Students don’t get academic credit for these classes even though they still cost them in time and money. And there’s another problem: being placed in even one remedial class as a freshman — particularly at a community college — can significantly reduce a student’s odds of ever completing a degree.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat Caroline Hendrie

Ensuring College Readiness and Success for Latino Students

From left, Fermin Leal of EdSource, Juan Garcia of ACT, Carolyn Sattin-Bajaj of Seton Hall University, Carmen Macias of the University of Southern California, Victor Zamora of KIPP Colorado Schools participate in a panel discussion about Latino students and college readiness at EWA's third annual Spanish-language media convning. Source: Twitter/ @leslieenriquez

The number of Hispanics taking the ACT exam jumped 50 percent from 2011 to 2015. But only 15 percent of those test takers are scoring well enough to be deemed college-ready in all four subjects, compared to 28 percent of other students.

These figures starkly reflect “the gap between the level of aspiration and the level of readiness” required to thrive in college, said Juan Garcia, senior director of the ACT’s Office for the Advancement of Underserved Learners.

Blog: The Educated Reporter Allison Kowalski

Back-to-School: You Need Stories, We’ve Got Ideas

Back-to-School: You Need Stories, We’ve Got Ideas

The boys (and girls) are back in town. For class, that is.

See how forced that lede was? Back-to-school reporting can take on a similar tinge of predictability, with journalists wondering how an occasion as locked in as the changing of the seasons can be written about with the freshness of spring.

Recently some of the beat’s heavy hitters dished with EWA’s Emily Richmond about ways newsrooms can take advantage of the first week of school to tell important stories and cover overlooked issues.

Report Erik Robelen

The Learning Landscape
Bellwether Education Partners

This report examines the status of education in the United States by aggregating high quality research and data from numerous credible sources. Each chapter describes the context and the current state of play in each focus area – including student achievement, standards and testing; school finance, and charter schools, among others. It highlights key policy issues and trends affecting public education now and in the future. 


The U.S. Elections & Education: Part 1
Washington, D.C. • August 30, 2016

Now that the White House race has narrowed to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, how is education playing out as an issue in the campaign? Will it prove an important fault line between the Democratic and Republican candidates? Will Trump offer any details to contrast with Clinton’s extensive set of proposals from early childhood to higher education? What are the potential implications for schools and colleges depending on who wins the White House? Also, what other races this fall should be on the radar of journalists, whether elections for Congress, state legislatures, or governor?

Blog: Latino Ed Beat Caroline Hendrie

Affirmative Action, #BeckyWithTheBadGrades and Latino Students

Source: Flickr/ via Chris Phan (CC BY 2.0)

If you haven’t yet heard of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the use of race as a factor in college admissions, you may have at least seen the #BeckyWithTheBadGrades buzz on Twitter and wondered what it meant. 

Though it is in part a reference to Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” sensation, the hashtag has more to do with higher education than pop culture.

Blog: The Educated Reporter George Dieter

Is the AP Program Helping Disadvantaged Students?

Woodstock High School psychology teacher John Headley leads an Advanced Placement class discussion on classical and operant conditions. Woodstock District 200 in Crystal Lake, Illinois has been working with the nonprofit Equal Opportunity Schools to be proactive about allowing more students to access AP courses. (H. Rick Bamman / Shaw Media)

Participation in the Advanced Placement program has more than doubled over the past decade, with nearly 2.5 million students taking one or more AP exams in 2015. But with that growth has come questions about the push to ramp up the AP presence, especially initiatives that target low-income and minority students.

How well do AP courses prepare students for the rigors of college? And are students who may lack adequate preparation benefiting from the coursework?

Report Mikhail Zinshteyn

Teaching Adolescents to Become Learners: The Role of Noncognitive Factors in Shaping School Performance

Teaching Adolescents To Become Learners summarizes the research on five categories of noncognitive factors that are related to academic performance: academic behaviors, academic perseverance, academic mindsets, learning strategies and social skills, and proposes a framework for thinking about how these factors interact to affect academic performance, and what the relationship is between noncognitive factors and classroom/school context, as well as the larger socio-cultural context.

Blog: The Educated Reporter Erik Robelen

Testing and Test Prep: How Much Is Too Much?

Flickr/Jirka Matousek

It’s not hard to find a teacher willing to bend your ear about the volume of standardized testing in schools today, and the pressure for “test prep.” But how widespread are such concerns among educators? And what’s the on-the-ground reality they experience?

New survey data suggest these impressions about over-testing and test prep are more than just anecdotal: They are the norm for the majority of public school teachers.

Blog: The Educated Reporter Caroline Hendrie

Why Do Massachusetts Public Schools Lead the Nation?

Massachusetts, a strong performer on both national and international educational rankings, is home to Boston Latin, the nation's oldest public school. (Wikimedia Commons/Daderot)

When it comes to the story of Massachusetts’ public schools, the takeaway, according to the state’s former education secretary, Paul Reville, is that “doing well isn’t good enough.”

Blog: The Educated Reporter Lori Crouch

‘Linked Learning’ the Focus of Innovative High School

Principal Dalton Cole of the School of Business and Tourism and Esther Soliman, Linked Learning administrator for LAUSD. (Gail Robinson for EWA)

Like many of their counterparts across the country, 10th graders at the School of Business and Tourism, part of the Miguel Contreras Learning Complex near downtown Los Angeles, read To Kill a Mockingbird. But they also read the works of self-help writer Dale Carnegie. Eleventh graders study The Great Gatsby but earlier in the year they pondered Contagious: Why Things Catch On, by Jonah Berger.

Blog: The Educated Reporter Lori Crouch

Angela Duckworth: Raising Test Scores Is Not a Sign of Grit

In the dozen years that Angela Duckworth has researched the concept of grit, she’s found new ways to test its validity, identified examples of it in popular culture, and worked to bust myths about its application in schools. But she hasn’t developed a just-add-water curriculum package that interested schools can use to develop the character trait in their students.

Blog: The Educated Reporter Lori Crouch

Study: Big Benefits to Career and Technical Education

A student and teacher in a welding class. A new study of Arkansas high schoolers found girls were more likely than their male classmates to specialize in a particular area of career and technical education. (Flickr/Photo Dudes)

When students feel engaged and connected to their schoolwork, it’s no surprise that they tend to have better academic outcomes. But a new study of career and technical education programs suggests the benefits can extend well beyond high school graduation.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat Michael Marriott

‘Lives in Limbo’: Supporting Undocumented Students

Yehimi Cambron, middle, shares her immigration story at the Center for American Progress event, "Harnessing the Talent of DACA and Unauthorized Students at the K-12 Level." She was joined by, from left, Richard Loeschner of Brentwood High School in New York, Frances Esparza of Boston Public Schools, Roberto Gonzales of Harvard University, and moderator Scott Sargrad of CAP. Photo by Natalie Gross/ EWA

When Yehimi Cambron crossed the U.S. border from Mexico with her parents, they told her she would not have documented legal status in this country. But as a third-grader, she had no concept of how that would affect her.

It wasn’t until she was 15 and denied a $50 prize in an art competition because she didn’t have a Social Security number that she grasped its meaning.

Report Elizabeth Thorne

Construction Ahead: Are State Policies Building Bridges, Detours, or Roadblocks to College?
New America

Far far too many students, the path between high school and higher education is littered with detours and roadblocks. … “Mapping College Ready Policies 2015-16,” a data visualization project released earlier today by New America’s Education Policy Program, analyzes individual states’ progress towards addressing these challenges to ensure all students are on a sturdy bridge on their route from high school to higher education.


Blog: Higher Ed Beat Caroline Hendrie

The Dispute Over Whether Good Colleges Help or Hurt Average Students

(UCLA Life)

According to a leading economist, the public debate over affirmative action’s role in higher education is missing the point, and could actually lead to worse academic outcomes for students who get a boost from a college’s affirmative action policies. That view, however, is hotly contested by a wide range of scholars.

Blog: Higher Ed Beat Mikhail Zinshteyn

How Colleges Can Help Students Who Are First in Their Families to Attend College

Reina Olivas, right, speaks to reporters at an EWA journalism seminar in Los Angeles, February 27, 2016. (Photo credit: EWA/Mikhail Zinshteyn)

A few weeks ago Reina Olivas got on the phone with a freshman college student. “She was having a hard time with the cultural experience, the college experience,” said Olivas, a college mentor who’s in her third year at the University of Texas at Austin. “So I asked her this initial question – ‘Have you gone to office hours?’”

Olivas is part of an eight-person crew at the Dell Scholars Program that connects with 1,500 college students across the country who could use a helpful hint from other students who also are wending their way through higher learning.

Blog: Higher Ed Beat Mikhail Zinshteyn

SAT Makes Bid to Better Serve Poor Kids

David Coleman speaks to reporters at an Education Writers Seminar in Los Angeles, February 27, 2016. (Credit: EWA)

The SAT has been called out of touch, instructionally irrelevant, and a contributor to the diversity gaps on college campuses because the test arguably benefits wealthier students who can afford heaps of test preparation.

But now the SAT is fighting back. The College Board, the test’s owner, is hoping that a major makeover of the assessment that’s set to debut this weekend will persuade critics that students, teachers and colleges still need an exam that has been a centerpiece of the admissions landscape for 90 years.

EWA Radio Michael Marriott

Chicago’s Noble Charter Schools: A Model Network?
EWA Radio: Episode 60

Flickr/Mike Procario

In the Windy City, one out of every 10 high schoolers is enrolled at a campus in the Noble Network of Charter Schools. And while Noble students typically perform well, the network is facing some growing pains in the nation’s third-largest school district. Among the challenges: An increasingly diverse student population, competition for enrollment from traditional Chicago Public Schools campuses seeking to reinvent themselves, and concerns about Noble’s strict discipline policies and emphasis on preparing for the ACT college entrance exam.

EWA Radio Caroline Hendrie

Can ‘Pushy Moms’ Nudge Community College Students to New Heights?
EWA Radio: Episode 59

Flickr/Johnathan Nightingale

Many community college students dream of making the transition to a four-year institution but the application process can be daunting – especially if you don’t have experienced family members to ask for help. Enter the “Pushy Moms” at LaGuardia Community College, a volunteer group of mothers well-versed in the ins and outs of the higher education admissions maze.

Blog: The Educated Reporter Emily Richmond

Exam Gives Glimpse of How Schools Stack Up Globally

Students work on a robotics project at the School of Science/ Engineering Magnet in Dallas, Texas, one of about 450 U.S. campuses using the OECD Test for Schools. The optional exam allows schools worldwide to compare student proficiency in reading, mathematics, and science. (Photo courtesy of Science/Engineering Magnet)

The many complaints about the large quantity of standardized assessments American students take may make giving another test a hard sell. But some U.S. high schools have recently added a voluntary exam that puts their student achievement in reading, math and science into an international context.

Blog: The Educated Reporter Michael Marriott

This Is What’s New in 2016 from EWA

Here’s something to add to your list of New Year’s resolutions, and it might even make it easier to keep that pledge to exercise more often: Subscribe to EWA Radio! Each week, we feature education journalists sharing the backstory to their best work. You’ll hear tips for managing the daily beat, as well as ideas for localizing national issues for your own audience. 

Here are a few more opportunities from EWA to help ramp up your reporting in 2016: 

Blog: The Educated Reporter George Dieter

EWA Radio: Here Are Your Favorites of 2015

It’s been a terrific year for our scrappy little podcast, and we’re thrilled to report an equally stellar lineup coming to EWA Radio in 2016.  

I’d like to take a moment to thank the many journalists and education experts who made time to join us for lively conversations, and to all of you who have offered suggestions for stories and guests to feature. Please keep the feedback coming! 

Here’s a quick rundown of the 10 most popular episodes of the year:

Blog: The Educated Reporter Elizabeth Thorne

Shopping for Holiday Stories? Hit the Mall

The mall can be a goldmine of story ideas - and sources - for education reporters during the holiday weeks when schools are closed. (Flickr/AmandaB3

With most schools closed until after the New Year, the holidays can be a dry spell on the education beat. But there’s no shortage of ideas for creative reporters who are willing to venture into less-familiar territory.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat Michael Marriott

Cafécolleges Offer Unique Approach to Higher Ed Help

Cafécollege in San Antonio opened in 2010 to assist students of all ages with their higher education questions. Now, the center is being replicated in Houston. Source: Flickr/ via lee leblanc (CC BY 2.0)

A cup of coffee in a comfortable lounge may be just what students need to keep them relaxed about the college application process. At least, that’s what a new education-focused center in Houston is going for. 

Cafécollege Houston opened last week, modeled after San Antonio’s successful center with the same name – a “one stop shop” for teens and adults looking for guidance on college applications, financial aid, the college transfer process and more.

Blog: The Educated Reporter Caroline Hendrie

Deeper Learning, Smarter Testing

Linda Darling-Hammond speaks to reporters at a seminar on motivation at Stanford in November. (Photo credit: EWA/Michael Marriott)

Since 2003, more information is produced every two days than the total sum of information produced between that year and the dawn of time, the CEO of Google said in 2010.  Easily web-accessible facts, names and articles have grown exponentially, so much so that some say students can’t be taught like they were in the past, when rote memorization was the gold standard for learning and information wasn’t at almost everyone’s fingertips.


College Readiness: What Does It Mean for Higher Ed?

“College and career readiness” has become the rallying cry for what high schools should aim to achieve for their graduates. But large numbers of students still arrive on college campuses needing remedial courses, and many of those who are academically ready still struggle to adapt to college and earn their degrees.

Sheraton Los Angeles Downtown Hotel
711 S Hope St, Los Angeles, CA 90017

Teaching & Testing in the Common Core Era


Despite persistent political debates, the Common Core State Standards are now a classroom reality in public schools across the country. Yet much is in flux as educators wrestle with how best to teach the Common Core — or their own state’s version of it — and some states rethink the tests tied to the new K-12 standards.   

Sheraton Los Angeles Downtown Hotel
711 S Hope St, Los Angeles, CA 90017
Report Jonathan Kang

LOCKED OUT: Improving Educational and Vocational Outcomes for Incarcerated Youth
The Council of State Governments Justice Center

There is perhaps no population of young people who have a greater need for access to quality education and who experience more barriers to access than incarcerated youth. How are educational and vocational services being made available to them? How are states collecting and tracking student outcome data? How are juvenile correctional agencies and education agencies working together to ensure that these youth transition to a community-based educational or vocational setting after release from incarceration?

Blog: Higher Ed Beat Caroline Hendrie

Saving on College by Doing Some of It in High School

Gov. Dannel Malloy announces the creation of Connecticut's first P-TECH high school, modeled after the IBM-backed school in Brooklyn, New York. (Source: Flickr/Dannel Malloy)

Last week the White House announced a new higher education experiment that will direct federal grants to some high school students who want to enroll in college classes.

The plan is to start small, with the administration offering $20 million to help defray the college costs of up to 10,000 low-income high school students for the 2016-2017 academic year. The money will come from the overall Pell Grant pot, which is currently funded at more than $30 billion annually and used by 8 million students.

Blog: Higher Ed Beat Michael Marriott

How Community Colleges Are Helping Transfer Students

Source: Bigstock

Students who transfer between colleges and universities on their path to achieve a college degree often encounter obstacles – barriers, like lost credits, that could keep them from finishing their degree altogether. At EWA’s recent seminar in Orlando focused on higher education, reporters got a lesson in the data on transfer students and heard from experts who are making the process of transferring and going on to earn degrees easier for students at their community colleges.

Blog: Higher Ed Beat Caroline Hendrie

Florida Colleges Face Life Without Remediation

Letting students decide whether they need remedial courses is shortsighted, Valencia College President Sandy Shugart said. Valencia College/Don Burlinson

Each year, hundreds of thousands of new college students arrive on campus unable to handle freshman level work and wind up in remedial classes. That’s a major frustration not only to the students but also to lawmakers who believe public dollars are being used twice for the same instruction – once at the K-12 level, then again in postsecondary financial aid.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat Mikhail Zinshteyn

White House Celebrates Hispanic Education During Heritage Month

Alejandra Ceja, left, speaks at a White House celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month Thursday, Oct. 15. Ceja is the executive director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence of Hispanics. Source: Flickr/ via US Department of Education (CC BY 2.0)

In a speech honoring Hispanic Heritage Month and the 25th anniversary of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics Thursday, President Obama praised Hispanic students for helping drive the U.S. high school graduation rate to an all-time high and also announced the commitments of hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to boost student academic success. 

EWA Radio Caroline Hendrie

Boosting Higher Ed Success for Low-Income Students
EWA Radio: Episode 42

Christopher Feaster, a student featured in Kavitha Cardoza's documentary for WAMU Radio. (WAMU)

Why do so few students from low-income families earn college degrees, even when they were academic standouts as high schoolers? And what can be done to help these students make a smoother transition to higher education?

Kavitha Cardoza tackles these questions in “Lower Income, Higher Ed”, a new documentary for WAMU Radio in Washington, D.C.

Blog: The Educated Reporter Lori Crouch

Teacher, Student Voices in Back-to-School Spotlight

It’s easy to get cynical about back-to-school stories – especially when you’ve been an education reporter for many years. But it’s important to remember that for many children and their families – one of the prime audiences for such reporting – this might be the first time they’ve gone through the experience.


69th EWA National Seminar

The Education Writers Association, the national professional organization for journalists who cover education, is thrilled to announce that its annual conference will take place from Sunday, May 1, through Tuesday, May 3, 2016, in the historic city of Boston.

Co-hosted by Boston University’s College of Communication and School of Education, EWA’s 69th National Seminar will examine a wide array of timely topics in education — from early childhood through career — while expanding and sharpening participants’ skills in reporting and storytelling.

Boston, Massachusetts
Blog: Latino Ed Beat Michael Marriott

Hispanic ‘Disconnected Youth’ Numbers Improve

Source: Flickr/ via Derek Mindler (CC BY 2.0)

Fewer Hispanic 18- and 19-year-olds are disconnected from school and jobs than before the Great Recession, a new Pew Research Center analysis of federal data shows. 

The percentage of Hispanic youth who are unemployed and not enrolled in school is the lowest it has been in 10 years, with a dramatic drop from 21 percent in 2009 to 16 percent in 2014.

Report Natalie Gross

Connecting Education, Workforce Data Key to Strong State Labor Markets
National Governors Association

As the individual with the platform and budget authority to guide public education and economic development at the state level, the governor plays a central role in ensuring that public educational institutions provide students with the knowledge and abilities required for a successful life and career. The systemic use of data from education and labor markets informs governors and other policymakers of the effectiveness and efficiency of their existing postsecondary systems and students and employers of labor market conditions.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat Mikhail Zinshteyn

Professor’s Advice to Latino Freshmen: ‘Believe You Belong’

Latino professors from universities across the country give incoming college freshmen advice in a recent post on NBC News Latino, sharing both practical reminders — like “use the class syllabus” and “get to know your teachers” — and heartfelt sentiments about what it means to be Latino on a college campus. 

Blog: The Educated Reporter Lori Crouch

Back-to-School: Story Ideas That Shine


While it may seem that every back-to-school story has been written, the well is far from dry. Are you following the blogs teachers in your district write? Have you amassed the data sets you’ll need to write that deep dive explaining why so many local high school graduates land in remedial classes when they first enter college?

No? It’s OK. You’re not alone.

Report Lori Crouch

How to Boost Student Motivation
Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching

With its new report, “Motivation Matters: How New Research Can Help Teachers Boost Student Engagement,” Carnegie Foundation writers Susan Headden and Sarah McKay bring needed clarity to this growing field. They define key terms, discuss research findings, and explain promising approaches to boosting motivation. The report is organized according to three major factors that contribute to student motivation: rewards and value, mindsets, and relationships. It also explores the system-level supports that are necessary for the scaling and long-term success of this work.

Blog: The Educated Reporter Mikhail Zinshteyn

Schools With Tough Tests Send More Low-Income Kids to College

Morris Jeff Community School in Louisiana, an  International Baccalaureate school. (Source: Flickr/Bart Everson)

Schools that that teach low-income students a notoriously demanding curriculum are almost twice as likely to see those students enroll in college, a new report shows.

This news comes on the heels of growing research suggesting that challenging assessments, which are a staple of the International Baccalaureate program featured in the report, help students develop a deeper understanding of key subjects like math and history. That “deeper learning,” in turn, may lead to more college opportunities. 

Post Lori Crouch

The New Frontier For Advanced Placement: Online Ap Lessons, For Free – The Washington Post

The explosion of free online education, known mainly for targeting adults, is reaching ever further into high schools.

On Wednesday, a new sequence of lessons for high school Advanced Placement courses in calculus, physics and macroeconomics went live on a free Web site founded by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University. The lessons, developed by Davidson College for the site called edX, represent a new step in the evolution of ties between the popular AP college-level program and the “massive open online courses” known as MOOCs.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat Michael Marriott

College Board Goes ‘All In’ to Attract Latinos to Advanced Placement

Latino students might shun Advanced Placement courses if the only students they see in them are mostly affluent whites. 

That’s essentially what Jeremy Goldman, head of counseling at a Baltimore high school told NBC last week in an article about the College Board’s new campaign to boost the number of minority high school students enrolled in AP classes. 

Multimedia Michael Marriott

Rethinking Career & Technical Education in a Global Context
2015 EWA National Seminar

Rethinking Career & Technical Education in a Global Context

Amid worries of a “skills gap” for U.S. youths and young adults, some experts call for rethinking and ramping up career and technical education. Panelists explore the skills and achievement of American young people in an international context, and highlight ways to improve CTE with an eye toward promising practices in other countries.

Blog: The Educated Reporter Mikhail Zinshteyn

At Catholic High School, Chicago Students Earn While They Learn

Cristo Rey Jesuit High School's principal Pat Garrity, left, and its vice president of advancement, Elizabeth White. (Sarah Darville for EWA)

When Carolyn Alessio assigned her students to prepare to act out a trial to probe the themes of “Frankenstein,” she was surprised at what she found at the top of a few of their supporting documents — perfectly formatted docket numbers.

Blog: The Educated Reporter Michael Marriott

Chicago Students Soar at Noble Charter High School

At Noble Charter High School in Chicago, seniors decorate their lockers with the names of colleges to which they've been accepted. (Jessica Huseman for EWA)

The Noble Network of Charter Schools is arguably Chicago’s most famous charter chain. Despite having schools only in one city and operating exclusively at the high school level, charter advocates now consider Noble to be in the same tier as KIPP and Achievement First — national brands in the no-excuses charter arena.

Report Mikhail Zinshteyn

Mindset Interventions Are a Scalable Treatment for Academic Underachievement
Stanford University

We quickly discovered two good reasons schools weren’t implementing mindset interventions: Schools didn’t know how to implement mindset interventions, and Schools didn’t know whether mindset interventions would work for their students. We had something important in common with them: We didn’t know either! To turn mindset interventions into something that schools could (and should) practically use, we first needed to develop a mindset intervention that schools could easily implement. We also needed to test whether this easy-to-use intervention was effective for various kinds of students.

Blog: The Educated Reporter Erik Robelen

The Global Context: Rethinking Career and Technical Education

The Global Context: Rethinking Career and Technical Education

The United States should look to countries like Switzerland and Singapore – both seen as having strong, successful vocational education systems – if it wants to address the widening skills gap among young people.

That was the consensus of two of the three panelists during a discussion on rethinking career and technical education during the Education Writers Association’s 68th national seminar in Chicago.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat Michael Marriott

Rising English Proficiency Among Hispanics Affected by Nativity, Education

Latinos older than age 5 are speaking English better now than the same demographic group did in 2000, a new Pew Research Center study shows. Among those driving the statistics are the U.S.-born and those who have completed a high-school education. 

According to the study — an analysis of 2013 U.S. Census Bureau data — 33.2 million Hispanics in the United States speak English proficiently, a record high. 

Blog: The Educated Reporter Caroline Hendrie

Students, Teachers Don’t Study The Way Science Says They Should

Henry Roediger listens as Bror Saxberg answers a reporter's question at EWA's 68th National Seminar in Chicago. (Photo credit: Mikhail Zinshteyn/EWA)

Most students don’t study using methods backed by scientific research, panelists at the Education Writers Association’s deep dive on the science of learning told reporters in Chicago at the association’s 68th National Seminar.

“Why do people find learning so hard?” asked Henry Roediger, a psychology professor at Washington University in St. Louis, who participated in the April event.

Blog: The Educated Reporter Mikhail Zinshteyn

‘Real World’ + Academic Learning = A High School Diploma

Ryan Marquis, center, guides his classmates through an engineering project he designed as part of his work-study internship. (Jim Vaiknoras for The Hechinger Report)

A few months ago I spent time with students at Pittsfield Middle High School in rural New Hampshire. They’re participating in a program known as “Extended Learning Opportunities”, which lets them step out of the traditional classroom setting and explore their personal interests. A central goal is to help them find the connective tissue between their academic studies and potential career goals. 

Blog: The Educated Reporter Mikhail Zinshteyn

U.S. High School Graduation Rate Inches Higher

For interactive map, scroll down. 

More students in the United States are graduating from high school, according to newly released data from the U.S. Department of Education.

“America’s students have achieved another record-setting milestone,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a prepared statement. “This is a vital step toward readiness for success in college and careers for every student in this country, and these improvements are thanks to the hard work of teachers, principals, students and families.”

Blog: Latino Ed Beat Michael Marriott

Which States Do Best at Graduating Latino Boys from High School?

Source: Flickr/Alex Thompson (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

When it comes to giving high-school diplomas to Latino males, Alaska does it best. Nevada has some work to do.

According to a report released today by the Schott Foundation for Public Education – which focuses on the graduation rates of black and Latino males — graduation rates among Latino males have risen from 59 to 65 percent since 2009-10. The gap between whites and Latinos has also decreased 5 percentage points since that time.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat Michael Marriott

Vegas Campus Claims Nevada’s First HSI Title

On Monday, the College of Southern Nevada became the state’s first Hispanic-serving institution — a designation that two more Nevada colleges also might earn in the near future as the Las Vegas Valley’s Latino population continues to grow. 

Blog: Latino Ed Beat Michael Marriott

Fla. Hispanic Group Wants Say in Superintendent Search

A non-profit Hispanic education group in Palm Beach County, Fla. has asked the local school district for a say in its superintendent search.
Source: Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 2.0)

A non-profit Hispanic group in Palm Beach County, Fla. has asked the school district for a role in helping select the next superintendent — a person they say should have a proven track record of improving graduation rates among minority students. 

Blog: The Educated Reporter Caroline Hendrie

A Brief Look at America’s Gifted Students

A student's math textbook. Flickr/Enokson (CC BY 2.0)

The United States has a gifted and talented student problem: Mainly, too few of the nation’s students score high on domestic and international assessments, and those that do are disproportionately well-off, Asian-American or white.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat Natalie Gross

DC Public Schools Aim to Invest Millions in Latino, Black Males

DC Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson -- pictured here reading to students at a U.S. Department of Education event -- announced Wednesday the district will be investing $20 million in support programs and a new school for black and Latino male students. Source: Flickr/ U.S. Department of Education (CC BY 2.0)

The District of Columbia Public Schools could soon be making a large investment in the education of Latino and black males, who comprise 43 percent of the district’s student population and who historically tend to fall behind in reading and math, and have lower attendance and graduation rates. 

Blog: Latino Ed Beat Michael Marriott

Report: Mexican-American Studies Breed Better Academic Performance

Studies show offering a culturally relevant education -- including courses in Mexican American studies and a mariachi band -- can improve academic performance among Mexican American students. Source: Flickr/ Justin Wagner (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Student participation in Mexican-American studies can be linked to better outcomes on state standardized tests and increased chances of earning a high school diploma, according to a recent report by the University of Arizona. 

The university researchers’ findings, published in the December 2014 edition of the American Educational Research Journal, reveal students’ chances of completing high school increased nearly 10 percent.

Blog: The Educated Reporter Caroline Hendrie

To Fight Test Fatigue, Scholars Call for Fewer, Harder Exams

Source: Flickr/Wonderlane (CC BY 2.0)

Here’s a counter-intuitive argument: The United States should spend more money on standardized tests.

With opposition to the new Common Core State Standards and the assessments linked to them reaching a fever pitch, advocating for better tests seems like an unpopular proposition. But what if U.S. students took fewer tests that measured their ability to understand academic concepts far more deeply than current tests permit?

Blog: Latino Ed Beat Caroline Hendrie

The ACT, STEM and Latino Students

Fewer than half of Hispanic students who took the ACT this year met the college readiness benchmarks in math or science, according to a new report. Source: Hoodr/ Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Fewer than half of Hispanic students who took the ACT this year met the college readiness benchmarks in math or science, but those who actually expressed interest in STEM fared better on the college admissions exam.

Blog: The Educated Reporter Michael Marriott

Veterans Day: Leaving the Battlefield for the College Classroom

Veterans Day: Leaving the Battlefield for the College Classroom

Last fall at EWA’s Higher Education Seminar, we examined the challenges of military personnel making the transition from soldiers to students. Given today’s holiday, it seemed like a good time to re-share this post about the panel discussion, held at Northeastern University in Boston. 

Far more students seeking higher education degrees are part-time, older than the traditional 18-22 set and well into their careers. And colleges have been flagged for their lagging efforts to address the unique needs of these mature students.

Blog: The Educated Reporter Michael Marriott

Tenn., Other States to ‘Review’ Common Core: Where Will It Lead?

Tenn., Other States to ‘Review’ Common Core: Where Will It Lead?

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, who has been a staunch defender of the Common Core, this week announced that the Volunteer State will launch a review of the standards, including inviting public input on what specifically should be changed. This decision appears to represent a big shift for the Republican governor, who last spring spoke before a packed ballroom at the Education Writers Association’s National Seminar with a message of staying the course on the standards for English/language arts and mathematics in the face of political resistance.