Building Public Support for Higher Standards
Higher education leaders across the country are stepping forward to advocate for more ambitious academic standards in high school because better prepared students are much more likely to succeed in college. Proﬁcient in high school should mean prepared for success in college and careers.
More Meaningful Standards and Tests
This summer and fall will mark a critical milestone in states’ efforts to raise standards and improve college readiness. The results of new K–12 student assessments will be released in states across the country. These new assessments represent a major step forward for students, as well as for colleges and employers. For the ﬁrst time, meeting standards will mean the students are prepared for successful transitions into credit-bearing college coursework and training opportunities.
Because the assessments have been pegged to higher standards than previous state tests — a college- and career-ready standard — scores may come back lower than what students, parents, and educators are used to. This should not be cause for alarm nor an indictment of our K–12 educators. These tests are simply providing a more accurate assessment of our students’ readiness for postsecondary pursuits.
Higher Ed for Higher Standards launched the Proﬁcient Means Prepared campaign to build public understanding and support for college- and career-ready standards and assessments. College leaders in dozens of states are stepping forward to reassure parents, students, educators, and the general public that setting high expectations is the right thing to do, that the new scores are more meaningful, and that higher education stands ready to help more students graduate high school truly prepared for success. They will be strengthening their partnerships with K–12 systems and taking steps to raise college completion rates on their own campuses.
HEfHS developed a targeted communications toolkit with suggested activities, sample messages, and case studies of higher education leadership in action to support outreach efforts, and the coalition is working with other higher education organizations and businesses to help implement the campaign. As described in more detail in this toolkit, higher education leaders can contribute in many ways:
- Publicly express your support for your state’s efforts to raise standards.
- Play an active role in your state’s media strategy when the new scores are released.
- Launch and/or expand initiatives to improve college readiness and success.
- Partner with the business community and other advocates to help spread the word.
Using our Proficient Means Prepared toolkit, higher ed leaders in more than 10 states reiterated support for higher standards during the score release. Check out select communications here.
Additional Resources from Higher Ed for Higher Standards
The Leveraging ESSA series provides several resources to support higher ed and K-12 collaboration in state ESSA plans.
The Aligning Expectations toolkit helps higher education leaders get involved in states’ reviews of standards and/or assessments.
The Alignment Policy Brief Series is designed to elevate best practices and inform higher ed leaders of emerging collaborations with K-12.
The Seizing the Moment report on community college alignment shows how collaboration with K–12 can better support students.