What's it mean to be "college and career ready?" Dist. 214 has a new answer

 
 
Updated 2/1/2016 9:12 AM
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  • Northwest Suburban High School District 214 Superintendent David Schuler is leading a campaign to redefine how students are judged to be prepared for college. "For way too long readiness has been defined by a single score on one specific standardized test and we don't believe that's fair," he said.

    Northwest Suburban High School District 214 Superintendent David Schuler is leading a campaign to redefine how students are judged to be prepared for college. "For way too long readiness has been defined by a single score on one specific standardized test and we don't believe that's fair," he said. Daily Herald File Photo

Northwest Suburban High School District 214 wants to change the definition of what it means to be college and career ready in America.

Superintendent David Schuler, who also serves as president of the national School Superintendent's Association, announced the campaign "Redefining Ready" to the District 214 school board on Thursday.

He hopes the campaign, which aims to measure students' college preparedness by more than just standardized test scores, will catch on around the country.

"For way too long readiness has been defined by a single score on one specific standardized test and we don't believe that's fair," Schuler said. "We believe students learn in a variety of ways, so they should be able to demonstrate readiness in a variety of ways."

With Schuler's and the district's increasing national standing -- District 214 has been recognized by the White House three times in the past 18 months -- leaders are hoping to change the conversation with their National College and Career Readiness Indicators backed in research and multiple measures of student success.

Under the ACT's measure, only 47 percent of students at District 214's six high schools are deemed ready for college. Yet 90 percent of graduates go to college, Schuler said.

The new National College and Career Readiness Indicators put forth by District 214 offers a checklist that take other factors into account, such as grade-point average, enrollment in advanced placement or dual credit classes and completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Other indicators include a student's participation in a career pathway, more than 90 percent attendance, participation in co-curricular activities, community service hours and having workplace experience or earning an industry credential.

Those metrics are backed up by data from independent universities and research institutions, rather than a for-profit testing company, Schuler said.

Outlines of the metrics for both "college ready" and "career ready" along with the research behind it, is available at www.redefiningready.org/.

Next week, the District 214 school board likely will be the first to pass a resolution in support of the new indicators.

"For a long time we have claimed to be a data-driven district. This is just taking it one step further," said board member Mimi Cooper.

Schuler and Associate Superintendent Laz Lopez plan to take the campaign on the road to Washington, D.C., in an effort to get 10 to 15 national education associations to endorse the new metrics by the end of the year.

Schuler also will present the plan at the National Conference on Education next month.

"I'm really excited about this work," he said. "This will be better for our communities and our schools. Our kids deserve it."

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