Katy Abel, Massachusetts Department of Higher Education
617-994-6932 (office) or 617-429-2026 (cell)

For Immediate Release
March 12, 2013

State Education Boards Define College & Career "Readiness" to Aid Massachusetts Students

State's New Definition Part of Ongoing Effort to Better Prepare Students for College and 21st Century Careers

WORCESTER – The Massachusetts Board of Higher Education (BHE) voted today to accept a new definition of what it takes for students to become ready for life after high school. The BHE action follows a “yes” vote on the state’s new college & career readiness definition taken by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education on February 26th.

Voting on the definition marks the first time that the two boards overseeing the state’s K12 schools and public colleges and universities have partnered in formal agreement on what it means to be prepared for success in college and in the workplace. The three-page definition is intended to provide better coordination between schools and colleges, with the goal of aligning curriculum and expectations for students.

“The Commonwealth has defined a set of learning competencies, intellectual capacities and experiences essential to all students to become lifelong learners, positive contributors to their families, workplaces and communities, and successfully engaged citizens of a global 21st century,” the new Massachusetts Definition of College and Career Readiness reads. The definition identifies the ability to read and comprehend “sufficiently complex texts,” to write effectively when using and/or analyzing sources, and to be able to build knowledge through research as essential competencies. Also included in the definition are workplace skills, such as the ability to accept direction and criticism, and qualities that students should be able to demonstrate, such as critical thinking skills and the ability to direct and evaluate their own learning.

“It is more important than ever to know what it takes to be prepared for college and career success, and today’s vote means that students and families will have information that they need to make the best choices about high school and beyond,” said Education Secretary Matthew Malone. “I applaud the leadership of Commissioner Chester, Commissioner Freeland, and our Boards of Elementary and Secondary Education and Higher Education, and commend them for working together and taking this important step forward.”

The definition emerged from ongoing work by the Departments of Higher Education and Elementary & Secondary Education to close the gap between what students are expected to have mastered before receiving a high school diploma, and the knowledge and skills needed to be successful after they graduate.

“Massachusetts sends more of its high school graduates on to college than any other state in the nation,” said Richard M. Freeland, Commissioner of Higher Education. “But once they arrive on campus, one third of our public college and university students require expensive remediation that slows their path to graduation. Today’s vote is the first in a series of moves toward our shared goal of establishing a new system of assessments, a system that not only measures a student’s readiness to graduate from high school but his or her ability to succeed in college and the workplace.”

“The state’s adoption of an integrated definition of college and career readiness provides a critical touchstone to the joint work of the K-12 and higher education sectors,” said Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester. “This definition sends a clear, unified message to educators, students, parents, and employers about our expectations and the level of preparation and performance that signals a student’s readiness for college and career.”

Massachusetts is the lead governing state in PARCC, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers. The 24-state PARCC consortium is led by Commissioner Chester, who chairs the PARCC Governing Board. Commissioner Freeland serves as co-chair of PARCC’s Higher Education Advisory Committee. The work to align high school and college expectations through a new generation of assessments is being closely watched by the Massachusetts business community.

"The joint action by the education boards recognizes the urgency felt by the business community to close skills gaps,” said Linda Noonan, executive director of the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education. “Business leaders understand the importance of ensuring that all students and adults have the applied skills necessary to succeed in the workplace."