The Key Shifts Behind College and Career Readiness Standards

Susan Pimentel has been involved with OVAE for the past decade assisting states with the establishment and implementation of standards-based education.  At the Annual State Directors Meeting (ASDM) on May 22, she presented an overview of the recently released College and Career Readiness Standards document while making a strong case for increasing the rigor of adult education teaching and learning.  “It is crucial that adult students have the opportunity to acquire skills they need for postsecondary and career success,” she said.

She described the process the project undertook to arrive at the included standards, grounding the crucial decisions in the evidence from postsecondary faculty and employers’ rating of various skills. The goal is to forge a stronger link among adult education, postsecondary education, and the world of work. This echoed a main theme shared on the first day of the Meeting, which was that educators and employers are often speaking different languages about what’s important for adults (see a report out here on this topic).

She led the participants through example exercises to identify the key shifts toward rigor in teaching materials. The report identifies the key shifts as complexity, evidence, and knowledge in English language arts. In mathematics, the key shifts are focus, cohesion, and rigor. Text complexity, in particular, Susan shared, is a metric that exposes a huge gap between what below-postsecondary students can do and what postsecondary settings assume they can do.

Later that day, Susan led a mini-institute at ASDM that allowed participating State Directors of adult education to go deeply into the Standards report, the key shifts, and work to align their state plans with the new set of standards.