Postsecondary readiness and access

Preparing students for success after graduation has become more urgent given the unpredictable nature of the past few school years. Districts have the capacity to positively impact students’ postsecondary pathways by ensuring that fit and match are at the core of our discussions and work with students and families. Re-evaluating outcomes and assessing data indicators can help schools celebrate what works and change what doesn’t. Creating staff-facing calendars for college and career readiness can help share the honor of preparing students for their postsecondary options in all grades.  

Guiding Questions 

  • How can we ensure that our schools are preparing students to succeed in any postsecondary pathway of choice?
  • What systems and structures can we re-align to close gaps created by virtual and hybrid learning the past 18 months?
  • How can we take the data and the information we are getting from students and use it to continuously improve our college and career readiness (CCR) strategies and approaches?   
Examples, Tools and Strategies
Strategies Aligned Resources

Assess your current program data and needs

Looking at postsecondary outcomes and data will help your schools organize supports so they are most effective in our new learning models. Having an eye towards equity about curricular offerings will keep options open for students. In hybrid or virtual learning, students may lack access to usual college and career readiness supports. Narrowing in on early data indicators will help you focus on the students with the most needs.

Use this Postsecondary Success Rubric  + Add to Action Plan from One Goal to re-evaluate and grow your district’s postsecondary readiness programs. Each of the seven focus areas have exemplary practices and resources from across the country to help home in on best practices as you evaluate your district or school. One linked resource is a toolkit for postsecondary success asset mapping + Add to Action Plan (another way to evaluate based on your district or school needs).

Oakland Unified School District uses these data dashboards + Add to Action Plan combining 8th grade indicators along with other postsecondary readiness indicators to help proactively identify students with more needs and ideally set them up for more supports. In particular, Education Strategy Group’s strategies for keeping 9th grade students on track + Add to Action Plan are beneficial to the college and career readiness of students from low-income households.

Create a staff-facing calendar of college and career readiness 

College and career readiness can’t just live in the guidance office – involving all staff in events and activities will increase access. With many usual readiness markers missed, we can create more access by prioritizing key milestones, starting in elementary schools.

This 15-Month College & Career Readiness Calendar for High Schools + Add to Action Plan from the National College Attainment Network is interactive and has comprehensive categories, action items and resources. Filter for “Early Awareness” to see elementary and middle school activities and suggestions, many of which can happen virtually and are also great community builders.

Expand access to advanced courses

Students with access to robust advanced coursework opportunities are more likely to enroll, persist and complete a postsecondary degree or credential. These six equity considerations from The Education Trust can guide institutions through setting up or expanding dual enrollment. Dual enrollment programs are important for all pathways, and many offer a variety of career and technical subjects.

Beyond a critical foundation of equity, there are various steps to take in establishing or expanding a dual enrollment program. Use Aspen Institute’s Dual Enrollment Playbook + Add to Action Plan for two key resources:

Assess the outcomes of your current CCR efforts  

As districts look to realign their efforts post-COVID-19 it’s important to measure your current and past postsecondary outcomes. Taking the time to map out where students actually go after graduating will help create a stronger CCR plan moving forward and provide opportunity for ongoing continual improvement.  

Districts and schools can use the StudentTracker for High Schools+ Add to Action Plan from the National Student Clearing House to track their students’ data in a large national database. Data is pulled from 97% of public and private institutions and and includes two-year/four-year, graduate, public/private, trade, vocational, and others.   

This is a subscription-based service. Download a sample report to see how you might apply the data in your district.