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College Success Can be Verified Rather Than Just Trusted

What if there was an easy to understand and clear set of educational benchmarks that could help determine whether a student is on track for success in post-secondary education? When I learned about the College Board College Readiness Benchmarks last summer, I knew right away, this was just such a tool.

There are few that can argue that a high school diploma — on its own — is not enough for today’s students to be successful in the world of tomorrow. I am not the only one who is concerned that most of America’s high schools are good at turning out students with diplomas, but are less successful in preparing students to leave high school with the knowledge and skills they will need to be truly successful in college. And, by success, I mean graduate from a two or four year college.

The College Board Readiness Benchmarks seek to quantify where a student needs to be academically, not just in high school, but sets academic targets starting at the third level:
  1. Advanced or proficient in Reading by grade 3.
  2. Advanced or proficient in Reading grades 3 through 8.
  3. Advanced in Math or in an advanced math program in grade.
  4. Completion of Algebra by grade 8, C or higher.
  5. Completion of Algebra 2 with a C or better by end of grade 11.
  6. A Score of 3.0 on an Advanced Placement Test.
  7. Score of 24.0 or better on the ACT Composite Score.
In the Greendale Schools, we use the College Board College Readiness Benchmarks along with the SATs or ACTs as benchmarks. This provides for accountability and helps verify facts. They give school leaders and parents, a set of simple, clear benchmarks that can help determine if a youth is on track for college success. I strongly believe this school performance data should be transparent and easily accessible for all to see throughout a student's education. It helps hold educators and school leaders accountable. We want — and the community expects — more students to be on target to be successful in their post-secondary education.

Across the country, Boards of Education have a set of benchmarks to see how students are doing by school, grade and district. Parents have always had to trust their child’s school that they were getting the job done, these benchmarks can help verify if the students are really ready for college success. The College Readiness Benchmarks provide another tool in the toolbox to get students to college and on to a successful life.

How is your school doing?

Image: William Hughes
About the author: Dr. William Hughes has worked in education for  31 years as a teacher, principal, superintendent of schools. He has served as Superintendent of the Greendale School District in Greendale, Wisconsin for the past 14 years. Greendale is a garden community and one of three greenbelt communities in the United States. It is a suburban district of about 2,600 students located in the Milwaukee metro area; an area known for high achieving schools.  Greendale is known for its high level of student achievement with over 90 percent of graduates attending higher education institutions, ongoing community engagement on multiple levels, along with collaborative relationships with bargaining groups while retaining a focus on children, service, citizenship and learning. He is a former board member of the Milwaukee Area Technical College, a member of the National School Climate Council, board member of the National Center for Learning and Citizenship and adjunct professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

You can contact William Hughes at
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