Improving College and Career Readiness and Success

College and career readiness is at the heart of California’s State Standards. State policymakers have emphasized the need to better align K–12 education systems with higher education to ensure a more seamless transition for young adults between high school and college, and between high school and the labor market. This is critically important, as California’s education system is highly fragmented. K-12 schools, community colleges, and the two university systems (CSU and UC) operate under entirely separate governance structures, and rely on distinct sources of funding. As a result, these different "segments" of the education system generally operate independently of one another, developing policies and practices to serve their own students with little or no effort to consult with other segments. Intersegmental partnerships can provide the institutional framework for the multiple segments in California’s education system to work together to tackle these large problems. In this project, PACE researchers investigate where California’s students attend college and how they are doing and how local partnerships between and among segments can work to strengthen alignment in standards and expectations between K-12 and post-secondary education, with the goal of accelerating students’ progress through the system.

Learn more about how K-12 education works:

PACE Infographic - K-12 Standards
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  • State Standards, the SAT, and Admission to the University of California

    Michal Kurlaender, Eric Grodsky, Samuel J. Agronow, Catherine L. Horn December 2011

    Like most other universities in the country, the University of California (UC) requires that students submit scores from either the SAT or ACT exams as part of their application package. These tests have their origins in the efforts of a handful of elite colleges and universities to expand the socioeconomic diversity and enhance the academic promise of their admissions pools; to reduce the number of tests students must take to apply to college and the burden this places on both prospective students and postsecondary institutions; and to provide a means of comparing students who attend different schools with potentially different grading standards. Despite the appeal of a nationally standardized college entrance exam, critics have asserted that standardized college entrance exams (and the SAT in particular) suffer from several important flaws.

  • Effects of the California High School Exit Exam on Student Persistence, Achievement, and Graduation

    Sean Reardon, Michal Kurlaender Policy Analysis for California Education September 2009

    A new PACE policy brief summarizes the findings from a study investigating the impact of the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) on California’s lowest performing students. Utilizing longitudinal data from four large urban school districts, Sean Reardon from Stanford and Michal Kurlaender from UC-Davis compare students scheduled to graduate just before (2005) and after (2006-07) the exit exam became a requirement for graduation from California high schools.


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