• Advancing Toward College and Career Readiness

  • Overview

    The Problem:
    Too many students who graduate from high school are unprepared for college and the workforce. Students aren’t gaining the critical thinking, communications, and problem-solving skills they need to succeed in the real world.

    These challenges impact U.S. businesses’ ability to find qualified talent in an increasingly competitive global economy. Without a strong education system in place, the U.S. will struggle to innovate and out-compete our international peers.

    In Arizona, 85% of quality jobs will require some form of post-secondary education and yet only 38% of Arizona’s young adults attain advanced professional training, an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree. Only 75% of students graduate from high school and of those who do graduate, 53% lack the academic proficiency to be accepted into an Arizona public university.  

    Why? Expectations have been low.  We have accepted mediocrity.  Over the past decade, the measure of adequate performance has been the AIMS test.  Students have had to pass this 10th grade-level test to graduate from high school.
    What has been the result for businesses?  Of employers surveyed, 34% reported that their newly-hired high school graduates are deficiently prepared, particularly in math, writing and critical-thinking.  In fact, many businesses will not relocate to Arizona due to the inadequate supply of a well-educated, incoming workforce, meaning fewer opportunities for our future generations. This is a problem for economic development as well as state revenue collections from low-paying jobs or unemployment.
    The Solution:
    Working together to develop a College and Career Ready Arizona! Nearly every state in the nation, including Arizona, is building a better and stronger academic foundation to prepare all students for college, careers and life. Forty-five states have adopted common standards that spell out the knowledge and skills students need to be successful in life. These new college- and career-ready standards raise expectations for all students and provide the academic foundation on which successful STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), career technical education, and student-support programs should be built. They also bring consistency to our education system and replace 50 different sets of state standards.

    In Arizona, these standards are called the Arizona College and Career Readiness State Standards – pillars of a college and career ready curriculum. The standards, both academically and technically focused, were benchmarked against countries with top-notch education programs, to ensure our future generations are ready to compete in the global marketplace. They not only improve what students learn, but how they learn by teaching critical-thinking, problem-solving and effective communication.


  • The Definitions

    College ready: Graduating student
    Is prepared for any postsecondary education or training experience, including study at two- and four-year institutions leading to a postsecondary credential (i.e. a certificate, license, associate or bachelor’s degree); has the English and mathematics knowledge and skills necessary to qualify for and succeed in entry-level, credit-bearing college courses without the need for remedial coursework.

    Career ready:  Job candidate
    Qualifies for a job that provides a family-sustaining wage and pathways to advancement and requires postsecondary training or education; is a high school graduate and has the English, and mathematics knowledge and skills needed to qualify for and succeed in the postsecondary job training and/or education necessary for their chosen career (i.e. technical/vocational program, community college, apprenticeship or significant on-the-job training).

  • The Call to Action

    This is a huge step forward and upward … a “sea change” in public education. Now the hard work of implementation begins. Lending a business voice to support these efforts – internally in a company or externally with other stakeholders – is critical to ushering in an Arizona that is truly college- and career-ready. The business community has been heard and the State is now transitioning to a system that is working toward producing graduates that will be prepared, no matter what pathway they take. We must stay the course. Not only will it take a decade to achieve, it will take every member of the community to assist.

    ABEC is convening such community conversations across Arizona, asking the question of local business, education and civic leaders “What role will you play in advancing your community’s children toward success?” ABEC’s initiatives, Advancing Toward College and Career Readiness, Best Practices in Business-Education Partnerships and School Finance Reform work together to support this move toward college and career readiness.