College & Career Readiness
Public education provides many social benefits for students and society, but at its core, it is the job of the public school system to prepare every student for a successful future. Every student deserves to graduate from high school with a plan for success, and our schools must set high expectations so our students can achieve this goal.
Over half of students attending community college need to take remedial courses before they can enroll in credit-bearing coursework. These high remediation rates are a symptom of low expectations in high school. We need to raise the bar so that every child can achieve the American dream, regardless of where he or she starts in life.
Here are some changes we support:
- Higher standards: In 2010, Illinois replaced its lowest-in-the-nation learning standards with new standards that are aligned to the Common Core. These new expectations are clearer, fewer, and higher, and they are aligned with the skills that a first-year college- or career-ready student needs for success right after high school.
- Better tests: Illinois’s old assessments (like the ISAT) were flawed in many ways: they didn’t encourage critical thinking or writing, they provided teachers and parents with little valuable feedback, and they were part of a culture that did not prioritize demonstrating growth each year. Because they were flawed, many districts layered additional standardized tests on top of them, sacrificing valuable instruction time to excessive testing. But the new tests – called PARCC – are a major improvement. Under PARCC, teachers will receive meaningful feedback to help them tailor instruction to meet each student’s needs. Parents will see where their child is on the path to college. And students will move away from mindless fill-in-the-bubble tests and toward a more robust assessment of their skills.
- Affordable Access: The rising cost of a college education remains a huge barrier for all students. We support increased high school guidance to help students navigate the complicated web of college applications and scholarships, parent engagement and education about the path to college – which is particularly important for first-generation college goers. We also support increased opportunities to earn college credit and career certificates during high school and targeted funding to help low-income students afford college or career and technical education programs.