District 214 hopes for state support of college readiness standards
A group of Illinois high school superintendents led by the head of Northwest Suburban High School District 214 hopes to get the state's endorsement this year of their definition of what it means to be college- and career-ready.
For almost a year, District 214 Superintendent David Schuler has been pitching his "Redefining Ready" campaign to educators across the state and country.
His message: that a single standardized test score alone shouldn't define whether a high school student is ready for the next level.
There are other factors, he argues, such as grade-point average, placement in advanced or dual credit courses, attendance and participation in co-curricular activities.
The Illinois State Board of Education is considering adoption of a college and career readiness framework -- developed by Schuler and superintendents in Grayslake, Lyons Township, Argo and Carbondale -- that defines four different pathways students can take to be considered college and career ready. The pathways include a mix of minimum benchmarks such as test scores, GPA and so-called academic and career indicators, like achieving at least a "C" in an Advanced Placement course or completing 25 hours of community service.
|Redefining college and career readiness: A new proposed framework seeks to redefine how students are college and career ready. Click here to see how.|
And at the request of State Superintendent Tony Smith, the local superintendents developed a "distinguished scholar designation" that sets higher standards on GPA, test scores and academic and career indicators.
"We don't just want a minimum standard, but a high rigorous standard -- something to aspire to," said Schuler, who first pitched the Redefining Ready campaign last year as president of the American Association of School Administrators.
State board of education members gave mostly positive feedback on the standards during a meeting in November.
Schuler is hopeful the board will include the proposed college and career ready framework within a state accountability plan that's required under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, which calls for such student readiness standards. The plan would ultimately be sent to Gov. Bruce Rauner for approval.
"I appreciate the fact the state board is really engaging stakeholders and listening and not pushing something at us, but building it with us, which is really great," Schuler said.
Schuler says the pathways are based in academic research. He described them like this:
• Pathway A is what has always been used -- a minimum standardized test score, such as an 18 ACT score in English or 530 SAT score in math.
• Pathway B represents the original Redefining Ready proposal, calling for a minimum 2.8 GPA and academic and career indicators.
• Pathways C and D were added recently, allowing GPAs as low as 2.0 but calling for Algebra II proficiency or passage of a college-entrance exam, in addition to other requirements.
"It provides opportunities for kids who just may have had a year off where they didn't do well, or unfortunately the student or a family member came down with cancer and school can't be a priority for some time," Schuler said.
Several school boards across the country, from New York to Nebraska, have adopted resolutions in support of the indicators.
Elementary and unit school districts in the Northwest suburbs and DuPage County are now working on developing similar standards for grades K-8, Schuler said.
Their presentation before the state board is expected in the next few months.