Policy brief

Making it Real

How High Schools Can Be Held Accountable for Developing Students' Career Readiness
David Stern
University of California, Berkeley


College and career readiness is the stated goal of the common core standards that have now been adopted by almost all the states. The Obama administration’s proposed budget for 2013 included a new name for Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Schools Act: “college and career ready schools.” There is widespread agreement on the goal of preparing every high school graduate both for postsecondary education and for a lifetime of fulfilling work. The days of distinguishing “college-bound” from “non-college-bound” students are over; instead, high schools aim to give all students a range of options for postsecondary education and technical training that will lead to rewarding careers. The question of what constitutes career readiness, and how that relates to college readiness, is the subject of much ongoing discussion. Our own view is that career readiness and college readiness entail many of the same skills, bodies of knowledge, and dispositions—but being ready for adult professional life is not exactly the same as being ready for postsecondary education. It may require more, as we will describe. Other groups and observers have come to this same conclusion. All emphasize the importance of many transferable skills, in addition to those imparted by academic instruction or technical training, that will support long-term success through a lifetime of changing circumstances.

Suggested citationDarche, S., & Stern, D. (2013, March). Making it real: How high schools can be held accountable for developing students’ career readiness [Policy brief]. Policy Analysis for California Education. https://edpolicyinca.org/publications/making-it-real-how-high-schools-can-be-held-accountable-developing-students-career