Redefining College Readiness - David T. Conley - Prepared for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, March 2007

Redefining College Readiness - David T. Conley - Prepared for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, March 2007
College Readiness
 David T. Conley

Prepared for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, March 2007

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Redefining College Readiness - David T. Conley - Prepared for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, March 2007
Table of Contents
 Introduction .  .                    .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .                                             5
            An Operational Definition of College Readiness.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 5
            Uses of the Expanded Conception of College Readiness.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 6
            How College Is Different from High School .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 6
 Current Means to Determine College Readiness                                                                                                   .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .                       8
            Course Titles and Grade Point Averages.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 8
            Tests .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  9
            Performance in College Courses .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 10
 Components in a Comprehensive Definition of College Readiness .  .                                                                                                                                           .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .           12
            Key Cognitive Strategies .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 12
            Academic Knowledge and Skills .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 14
            Academic Behaviors.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 16
            Contextual Skills and Awareness .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  17
 A Definition of College Readiness.  .                                                                   .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .                               18
            General Characteristics.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 18
            Example Performances.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 19
 Possible Ways to Measure the Dimensions of this Definition                                                                                                                             .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .               20
            Key Cognitive Strategies Measurement.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .   20
            Key Content Knowledge Measurement .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 20
            Academic Behaviors Measurement.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 21
            Contextual Skills and Awareness Measurement . .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 21
            Integrating the Four Sources .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 22
 Implications of the Definition.  .                                                        .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .                                 23
            Gauging College Prep Programs .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 23
            Gauging Effects in College . .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 23
 What Schools and Students Can Do to Foster College Readiness . .                                                                                                                                       .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .           25
            Create a Culture Focused on Intellectual Development .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 25
            Specify Core Knowledge and Skills .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 26
            Provide Necessary Supports to Students .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  26
            Provide Necessary Supports to Teachers .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 27
 What Students Can Do to Develop Their College Readiness .  .                                                                                                                            .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .              28

 References .  .                 .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .                                              30

To cite this report:
Conley, D. T. (2007). Redefining college readiness. Eugene, OR: Educational Policy Improvement Center.

© 2007 David T. Conley
    The purpose of this paper is to provide an          Finally, an increasing number of studies
operational definition of college readiness         have highlighted the importance of the
that differs from current representations of        contextual knowledge that a student must
this concept primarily in its scope. The paper      possess to be ready for college.  These
suggests that, while much has been learned          studies describe the need for students to
about this phenomenon, particularly during          understand how to apply to college, how to
the past 20 years, few systematic attempts          manage financial aid issues, and, perhaps
have been made to integrate the various             most importantly, how to adjust to college
aspects or components of college readiness          once they arrive. The transition to college has
that have been investigated in some depth           a component of culture shock for students,
during this period of time. As a result, college    one that is more severe for students from
readiness continues to be defined primarily         some communities than others.  Information
in terms of high school courses taken and           about the culture of college helps students
grades received along with scores on national       understand how to interact with professors and
tests as its primary metrics.                       peers in college and how to navigate college
                                                    as a social system and learning environment.
    Recent research has shed light on several
key elements of college success. Most important
for this paper is the realization that a range of   An Operational
cognitive and metacognitive capabilities, often     Definition of College Readiness
described as “key cognitive strategies,” have
been consistently and emphatically identified           College readiness can be defined
by those who teach entry-level college courses      operationally as the level of preparation a
as being as important or more important than        student needs in order to enroll and succeed—
any specific content knowledge taught in high       without remediation—in a credit-bearing
school. Examples of key key cognitive strategies    general education course at a postsecondary
include analysis, interpretation, precision and     institution that offers a baccalaureate degree
accuracy, problem solving, and reasoning.           or transfer to a baccalaureate program.
                                                    “Succeed” is defined as completing entry-
    Close behind in importance is knowledge         level courses at a level of understanding and
of specific types of content knowledge. Several     proficiency that makes it possible for the
studies have led to college readiness standards     student to consider taking the next course in
that specify key content knowledge associated       the sequence or the next level of course in
with college success. Writing may be by far the     the subject area. This conception is calibrated
single academic skill most closely associated       against what our recent research has come to
with college success, but the “big ideas” of        define as “best practices” entry-level courses
each content area are also very important           as opposed to the stereotypical freshman
building blocks.                                    course (Conley, Aspengren, Gallagher, & Nies,
                                                    2006a, 2006b; Conley, Aspengren, Stout, &
     Similarly important are the attitudes and      Veach, 2006c).  If students are prepared to
behavioral attributes that students who succeed     succeed in best practices courses, they will
in college must demonstrate. Among these are        be able to cope with the full range of college
study skills, time management, awareness of         courses they are likely to encounter.
one’s performance, persistence, and the ability
to utilize study groups. These are both specific        The college-ready student envisioned by
skills and more general attitudes, but all of       this definition is able to understand what is
them require high degrees of self-awareness         expected in a college course, can cope with the
and intentionality on the part of students as       content knowledge that is presented, and can
they enter college.                                 take away from the course the key intellectual

                                                                          Redefining College Readiness 
lessons and dispositions the course was             large children. Almost all of the rules of the
designed to convey and develop. In addition,        game that students have so carefully learned
the student is prepared to get the most out         and mastered over the preceding 13 years of
of the college experience by understanding          schooling are either discarded or modified
the culture and structure of postsecondary          drastically.  The pupil-teacher relationship
education and the ways of knowing and               changes dramatically as do expectations for
intellectual norms of this academic and             engagement, independent work, motivation,
social environment. The student has both the        and intellectual development.  All of this
mindset and disposition necessary to enable         occurs at a time when many young people
this to happen.                                     are experiencing significant independence
                                                    from family and from the role of child for the
                                                    first time. No wonder that the transition from
Uses of the Expanded Conception                     high school to college is one of the most
of College Readiness                                difficult that many people experience during
                                                    a lifetime.
    This definition can facilitate several
important actions.  First and foremost, it can           Because college is truly different
be used to judge the current system widely in       from high school, college readiness is
place to gauge college readiness. The paper will    fundamentally different than high school
conclude that although measures exist currently     competence.  Detailed analyses of college
or are in the process of being developed to         courses reveal that although a college course
generate high quality information in all of the     may have the same name as a high school
component areas of the definition, no system        course, college instructors pace their courses
exists or is being developed to integrate the       more rapidly, emphasize different aspects
information and, more importantly, shape high       of material taught, and have very different
school preparation programs so that they do a       goals for their courses than do high school
better and more intentional job of developing       instructors (Conley et al., 2006c).  Students
student capabilities in all of these areas.         fresh out of high school may think a college
                                                    course is very much like a similarly named
    The pursuit of such a goal should lead to the   high school class taken previously only to
consideration of new or refined measures and        find out that expectations are fundamentally
metrics to gauge college readiness with greater     different.  The college instructor is more
precision and across a wider range of variables     likely to emphasize a series of key thinking
and learning contexts and to provide better         skills that students, for the most part, do
information to high school students about           not develop extensively in high school. They
their college readiness at key points in high       expect students to make inferences, interpret
school.  Ideally and in addition, the definition    results, analyze conflicting explanations
can also be used as a conceptual framework to       of phenomena, support arguments with
design observational tools to assess the degree     evidence, solve complex problems that have
to which any particular high school program of      no obvious answer, reach conclusions, offer
instruction contains all the necessary elements     explanations, conduct research, engage in
to prepare students for college. In short, a more   the give-and-take of ideas, and generally
robust, inclusive definition of college readiness   think deeply about what they are being
can help shape student behaviors and high           taught (National Research Council, 2002).
school practices in ways that lead to more
students entering college ready to succeed.             Research findings describe college courses
                                                    that require students to read eight to ten
                                                    books in the same time that a high school class
How College Is                                      requires only one or two (Standards for Success,
Different from High School                          2003). In these college classes, students write
    College is different from high school in        multiple papers in short periods of time. These
many important ways, some obvious, some             papers must be well reasoned, well organized,
not so obvious. College is the first place where    and well documented with evidence from
we expect young people to be adults, not            credible sources (National Survey of Student

 Redefining College Readiness
Engagement, 2003, 2004, 2006).  By contrast,         faculty is the first-term freshman who is
high school students may write one or two            failing the course, shows up at office hours
research papers, at the most, during high            near the end of the term, and requests “extra
school, and may take weeks or months to do so.       credit” in order to be able to pass.  College
Increasingly, college courses in all subject areas   instructors are often mystified by such
require well developed writing skills, research      requests. The students are equally mystified by
capabilities, and what have been commonly            the instructor reaction, since this strategy has
described as thinking skills.                        worked very well for the student throughout
                                                     high school.  In other words, the cultural
    According to the National Survey of              and social expectations about learning and
Student Engagement (2006) the vast majority          performance that students encounter tend to
of first-year college students are actively          be vastly different as well.
engaged in small groups and are expected
to work with others inside and outside class             In short, the differences in expectations
on complex problems and projects.  They              between high school and college are manifold
are then expected to make presentations              and significant. Students must be prepared to
and to explain what they have learned.  In           use quite a different array of learning strategies
these courses, students are expected to              and coping skills to be successful in college
be independent, self-reliant learners who            than those developed and honed in high
recognize when they are having problems              school. Current measures of college readiness
and know when and how to seek help from              do not necessarily capture well these many
professors, students, or other sources.              dimensions of readiness.
    At the same time, college faculty                    An important question to ask, based on
consistently report that freshman students           this assessment of the nature of college,
need to be spending nearly twice the time            is: How well do current measures gauge
they indicate spending currently to prepare for      student readiness along these and other
class (National Survey of Student Engagement,        related important dimensions necessary for
2006). These students do not enter college with      college success? The next section describes
a work ethic that prepares them for instructor       the current means of determining college
expectations or course requirements.  College        readiness and some of the limitations of those
freshmen who are most successful are those           approaches.  This is followed by a section
who come prepared to work at the levels              that first defines a more comprehensive
faculty members expect. Those who do not are         notion of what it means to be college-ready
much less likely to progress beyond entry-level      and then details each of its facets. Next, the
courses, as witnessed by the high failure rates      paper presents briefly some ways in which

  “The nature and quality of the courses students
   take are ultimately what matters and few real
     measures of course quality exist currently.”

in these courses and the significant proportion      these facets might be measured and how
of college students who drop out during the          a more integrated approach to measuring
freshman year.                                       college readiness might benefit students.
                                                     Finally, the paper considers the changes
   Finally, the relationship between teacher         necessary from high schools, colleges, and
and student can be much different than in            students for this new approach to be put
high school. An oft-cited example by college         into practice.

                                                                             Redefining College Readiness 
Current Means to
Determine College Readiness
    While it is beyond the scope of this paper to      curriculum is the greatest pre-collegiate
present a full critique of current conceptions and     indicator of bachelor’s degree completion,
constructions of college readiness, it is worthwhile   and the impact is even greater for black
to consider briefly some of the limitations of the     and Hispanic students than white students.
current key measures, most notably among them          This, however, leads toward a course title
course titles, grade-point averages, and tests, as     based definition of college readiness.
well as a related measure, performance in entry-       Simply increasing the prescribed courses
level general education courses subsequent             students take may not be sufficient,
to admission.  This brief overview is presented        particularly for students who attend high
to accentuate the need for a more robust and           schools with low academic standards and
comprehensive definition of college readiness,         expectations.  The nature and quality of
one that leads to new tools, methods, and indices      the courses students take are ultimately
that will help students understand how ready           what matters (ACT, 2005b), and few real
for college they are and will help high schools        measures of course quality exist currently.
make systematic improvements to increase the           A key necessary component that could
number of college-ready students who graduate          address issues of course quality would be a
each year. Each of the major measures and their        set of criteria that specify the performances
limitations is discussed briefly in turn.              necessary to receive a high school diploma.
                                                       Since the 1980s, states have centered their
                                                       reform efforts around the development of
Course Titles and                                      statewide standards and assessments.  Yet
Grade Point Averages                                   most of these standards setting activities
                                                       end at the 10th grade.  Few states have
     The most common approach is to define             undertaken to define 12th grade high school
college readiness in terms of high school course       standards and the curriculum necessary to
taking patterns, including the titles, perceived       attain those standards.
challenge level, and the number of units
required for graduation, combined with the                  While course requirements for the high
grades students receive in those courses.  What        school diploma have increased in a number
this widely held definition assumes or presumes        of states, they have yet to produce significant
is that the number of courses that high school         improvements in student performance in
students take, and the units and names assigned        college (Achieve, 2004). For instance, since 1987
to them, are accurate, comprehensive proxies           many states have increased their mathematics
for college-level success (Callan, Finney, Kirst,      and science requirements (National Science
Usdan, & Venezia, 2006). Generally, these course       Board, 2004), but measures of college
titles must be approved by college admissions          graduation have not shown increases (ACT,
offices, in an uneasy but highly choreographed         2002, 2005a; Callan et al., 2006), nor have NAEP
interplay between high schools and colleges. The       scores improved significantly (National Center
net effect is to produce course titles that appear     for Educational Statistics, 2007).  This lack of
standardized on transcripts, but that promote          improved college success rates, even in the
a lack of “alignment between what is required          face of increasingly demanding high school
to get into college vs. what’s needed to stay in       graduation requirements, demonstrates how
college and succeed as an adult.” (Wagner, 2006)       difficult it will be to achieve greater college
                                                       success by simply having students take more
   Adelman (2006) employed transcript                  prescribed courses without understanding
analysis to reach the conclusion that                  what is being learned in those courses.
completing a challenging high school

 Redefining College Readiness
In fact, the mean grade point average of          tests define college readiness by establishing
high school students has steadily increased even      benchmarks empirically or through “cut scores.”
as measures of college success have fluctuated        For example, ACT has defined college readiness
or worsened (Woodruff, 2004).  A study of high        by establishing College Readiness Benchmarks
school transcripts undertaken by ACT researchers      representing the minimum ACT test scores
(Ziomek & Svec, 1995) found compelling evidence       required for students to have a high probability
of grade inflation.  More recently, data from         of success in corresponding credit-bearing first-
transcript analyses performed as a component of       year college courses.  The Benchmarks reflect
the National Assessment of Educational Progress       the ACT scores students need to earn to have
(NAEP) determined that 2005 high school               at least a 75% or greater chance of obtaining a
graduates had an overall grade point average of       course grade of “C” or better (ACT, 2005a). This
2.98. This represented a .30 GPA increase, from       is not a direct measure of necessary content
2.68 in 1990 (Ziomek & Svec, 1995). In other words,   knowledge and thinking skills, but a gauge of
a “B” average in high school now may reflect          probability.
knowledge and skills equivalent to something
more like a “C” average thirty years ago. This is         All states have adopted some form of
particularly problematic because many colleges        high school examination in English, math
have raised their GPA requirements over the           and science for a variety of reasons including
same period of time (Breland et al., 2000).           requirements in the federal No Child Left
                                                      Behind Act. Research conducted by Standards
    Rather than leading to an improvement             for Success, published in the 2003 report
in student readiness for college, this appears        Mixed Messages (Conley, 2003), found that
simply to have resulted in the compression of         most state standards-based high school tests
grades at the upper end of the scale. This has        were not well aligned with postsecondary
led to any number of attempts to compensate           learning.  These tests are perhaps good
for the compression, primarily through the            measures of basic academic skills, but not
weighting of particular courses. The UC system,       necessarily of the knowledge and capabilities
for example, weights Advanced Placement®              needed for college success.
(AP®) and honors courses, so that many UC
applicants now demonstrate GPAs that exceed               As a result, the scores students receive
4.0.  Individual high schools adopt their own         on state tests may not be good indicators of
weighting criteria, leading to myriad ways to         college readiness, but students may believe
compute a grade point average.  According to          that passage of the state test is just such
Hawkins & Clinedinst (2006) many colleges are         an indicator.  Recent data from the National
weighting high school GPAs to combat this             Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)
problem. It’s not just the UC system that gives       suggest a fundamental disconnect between
higher weight to college prep courses; 49% of         trends and scores on state tests and on NAEP
colleges and universities are doing it. Many less     tests, which has triggered a federal study of
selective colleges and universities are choosing      state definitions of “proficiency” (Cavanagh,
this weighting strategy over increasing GPA           2006).  When performance on state tests is
requirements. Breland et al. (2000) found that        compared to NAEP performance, significant
GPA requirements have increased more in               differences exist from state to state, and
private than public colleges over the last 10         students can show improvement on state
years, which accounts for most of the effect          tests and not corresponding improvement
they saw in increased GPA requirements in             on NAEP. In other words, it is very difficult to
higher education institutions.                        know what successful performance on a state
                                                      test really means.

Tests                                                     This creates serious problems when high
                                                      schools focus on getting students to pass
    Beyond using high school course titles to         state tests. When students do finally pass the
define college readiness, a more direct approach      state exam, their program of study may be
is to test a set of knowledge that students           hopelessly out of sequence with what it takes
are presumed to need to know to succeed               to be college eligible.  One possible means to
in college entry-level courses.  Admissions           help address this disconnect would be second-

                                                                             Redefining College Readiness 
generation assessment systems that connect                  indicate that 40% of admitted and enrolled
 high school tests with outcomes beyond high                 students take at least one remedial course (National
 school (Conley, 2006) and, in the process,                  Center for Education Statistics, 2004), reducing
 provide students with solid information on                  dramatically their probability of graduating and
 how ready they were and what they needed                    costing up to an estimated $1 billion per year (ACT,
 to do to be college-ready based on their state              2005b).  The California State University system,
 high school exam score.                                     which draws its students from the top third of high
                                                             school graduates in the state and which tracks
     Colleges also rely on Advanced Placement                remediation rates more precisely, finds that 46% of
 test scores as a potential measure of college               all first-year students require remedial education
 readiness because these courses are one of the              in both English and mathematics (Ali & Jenkins,
 few places in the high school curriculum where              2002). The rates at community colleges are likely
 some assumptions might be made about what                   much higher, leading to multi-tier remediation
 a student who takes a class has learned. This is            programs at some institutions where student skill
 because each AP course has a set of curricular              levels are so low they must take more than one
 and resource requirements and, often more                   remedial course in a subject area before reaching a
 importantly, because many students take the                 credit-bearing course.
 corresponding AP exams after they take the course.
 This causes teachers to align course content with               Having to enroll in remedial courses
 the curricular and exam specifications.                     increases the time it takes students to complete
                                                             their degrees and is associated with a decrease
     Even AP courses are being questioned by                 in the likelihood they will graduate (Adelman,
 some colleges and universities.  Although the               1999; National Center for Education Statistics,
 reasons why colleges question AP are complex,               2004).  Nationally, only 17% of those students
 one contributing issue is that some high schools            who must take a remedial reading class receive
 have adopted the practice of offering an AP                 a bachelor’s degree or higher; of those taking
 course in which none of the students take the               two remedial classes (other than reading), only
 AP exam, while others have taken to posting AP              20% receive such a degree or higher (National
 courses to student transcripts in subject areas             Center for Education Statistics, 2004).
 for which no AP exam, and therefore, no true
 AP course exists. These issues with AP courses                  Children from low-income families are
 demonstrate how even an externally-referenced               particularly vulnerable to a system that does
 program such as AP can be co-opted to serve the             not send clear signals to students on how
 purpose of inflating the academic credentials               ready they are for college.  They are the most
 of students without necessarily contributing to             dependent on the schools to prepare them
 the students’ college readiness.                            properly for college success because they are
                                                             often the first in their families to attend college.
                                                             These families can only gauge how ready for
 Performance in College Courses                              college success their children are based on
     An obvious but frequently overlooked fact               the measures used by the schools.  They are
 is that the final arbiter of college readiness              among the most likely to end up in remedial
 is student performance in college courses.                  education.
 Students who must enroll in remedial courses                    Only 60% of these youth can expect to
 or who fail entry-level courses find it much                graduate from high school, only one in three will
 more difficult to graduate from college.                    enroll in college, and only one in seven will earn
                                                             a bachelor’s degree (Bedsworth, Colby, & Doctor,
 Remedial Education                                          2006; Conley, 2005).  Those students who do
                                                             succeed in earning a college degree are taking
      The high proportion of students who are                longer to do so now than 20 years ago (ACT, 2002).
 identified as needing remedial or developmental             These figures suggest a circuitous path to attaining
 education is frequently cited as evidence of the            a degree, and that many, perhaps most, of those
 limitations of current admissions measures.                 who go on to college are not fully prepared for
 While the precise number of students requiring              what will be expected of them, particularly in the
 remediation is difficult to ascertain, federal statistics   area of how colleges operate (Adelman, 1999;

 Redefining College Readiness
“While the precise number of students requiring remediation is difficult to
   ascertain, federal statistics indicate that 40% of admitted and enrolled
   students take at least one remedial course, reducing dramatically their
probability of graduating and costing up to an estimated $1 billion per year.”

Horn, 2004; Venezia, Kirst, & Antonio, 2004). Just    some of these courses approach 50 percent, and
as important, this suggests that the high school      while some argue this is the fault of poor college
program of preparation is not adequately geared       teaching, others argue that this failure rate can
toward expecting these students to be prepared        be explained equally by poor study habits, a
for college admission or success. These students      lack of understanding of the expectations of
are subjected to considerably lower expectations      college instructors, and deficiencies in content
and demands in courses with titles that satisfy the   knowledge and thinking skills.
needs of college admissions offices but do little
to align with the actual content knowledge and            Defining what it takes to succeed in these
intellectual skill levels freshman college students   entry-level courses is a key component in
need to survive in the general education courses      determining what it means to be college-
that they normally take first (Achieve, 2004;         ready. “College readiness standards” can send
Adelman, 1999).                                       clearer messages to high schools regarding
                                                      course content and to states about their high
     Remediation statistics reveal the tip of         school level standards and assessments. These
the iceberg.  Many institutions allow students        standards are not geared to what should or
to choose not to take remedial courses even           does occur in high schools as much as to what
if the student is identified as needing such a        will be expected of students in college.
course. Placement methods vary tremendously
from institution to institution and are often             No less than a half-dozen such sets of
rudimentary in nature, identifying only those         standards exist currently at the national and
students with the most serious deficiencies.          state levels.  They largely concur on what
These factors in combination result in many           students need to know and be able to do to be
students, particularly students from low-             ready for college. All are focused expectations
income families and firstgeneration college           attendant with entry-level college courses.
attendees, struggling during the first year
                                                          The Standards for Success project, sponsored
of college, resulting for many students in
                                                      by the Association of American Universities,
an increase in time-to-degree-completion.
                                                      developed a comprehensive set of readiness
According to federal statistics, just over half of
                                                      standards in six subject areas (Conley, 2003a).
students seeking bachelor’s degrees beginning
                                                      These statements outline the knowledge, skill,
in 1995-96 had attained that degree from that
                                                      and key cognitive strategies necessary for success
institution six years later (National Center for
                                                      in research universities. Washington, D.C.-based
Education Statistics, 2003).
                                                      Achieve, Inc., sponsored by state governors,
                                                      organized the American Diploma Project. Its goal
General Education                                     was to develop standards that reflected both
                                                      college and work readiness in mathematics and
    Student performance in general education
                                                      English (Achieve, 2004). Both the College Board
courses has long been an issue in postsecondary
                                                      and ACT have published their own versions
education, where these courses come to serve as
                                                      of college readiness standards and criteria.  In
the real arbiter of admission. These “gateway”
                                                      addition, several states, most notable among
courses restrict access to majors and also tend
                                                      them Washington state, have published or are in
to “weed out” students who are incapable of
                                                      the process of developing sets of college readiness
succeeding in them.  When students struggle
                                                      standards or “definitions” that connect to state
in entry-level courses, it extends their time to
                                                      high school academic standards (Transition Math
degree completion, a hidden cost of inadequate
                                                      Project, 2005).
or inappropriate preparation.  Failure rates in

                                                                              Redefining College Readiness 
Components in a Comprehensive
 Definition of College Readiness
     College readiness is a multi-faceted              What the model argues for is a more
 concept comprising numerous variables that        comprehensive look at what it means to be
 include factors both internal and external to     college-ready, a perspective that emphasizes
 the school environment.  In order to provide      the interconnectedness of all of the facets
 a functional representation of the key facets     contained in the model.  This is the key point
 of college readiness, the model presented         of this definition, that all facets of college
 below organizes the key areas necessary           readiness must be identified and eventually
 for college readiness into four concentric        measured if more students are to be made
 levels.  These four areas of college readiness    college-ready.
 knowledge and skills emerge from a review of
 the literature and are those that can be most
 directly influenced by schools.                   Key Cognitive Strategies
     In practice, these various facets are not         The success of a well-prepared college
 mutually exclusive or perfectly nested as         student is built upon a foundation of key key
 portrayed in the model.  They interact with       cognitive strategies that enable students to
 one another extensively. For example, a lack of   learn content from a range of disciplines.
 college knowledge often affects the decisions     Unfortunately, the development of key key
 students make regarding the specific content      cognitive strategies in high school is often
 knowledge they choose to study and master.        overshadowed by an instructional focus on
 Or a lack of attention to academic behaviors is   de-contextualized content and facts necessary
 one of the most frequent causes of problems       to pass exit examinations or simply to keep
 for first-year students, whether they possess     students busy and classrooms quiet.
 the necessary content knowledge and key               For the most part, state high-stakes
 cognitive strategies.                             standardized tests require students to
                                                   recall or recognize fragmented and isolated
 Figure 1: Facets of College Readiness             bits of information.  Those that do contain
                                                   performance tasks are severely limited in the
                                                   time the tasks can take and their breadth or
                                                   depth.  The tests rarely require students to
                                                   apply their learning and almost never require
                                                   students to exhibit proficiency in higher
                                                   forms of cognition (Marzano, Pickering, &
                                                   McTighe, 1993).

                                                       Several studies of college faculty members
                                                   nationwide, regardless of the selectivity of the
                                                   university, expressed near-universal agreement
                                                   that most students arrive unprepared for the
                                                   intellectual demands and expectations of
                                                   postsecondary (Conley, 2003a).  For example,
                                                   one study found that faculty reported that
                                                   the primary areas in which first-year students
                                                   needed further development were critical
                                                   thinking and problem solving (Lundell, Higbee,
                                                   Hipp, & Copeland, 2004).

 Redefining College Readiness
The term “key cognitive strategies”                  is presented or conclusion that is reached,
was selected for this model to describe the               but asks why things are so.
intelligent behaviors necessary for college
readiness and to emphasize that these                 Analysis: The student identifies and evaluates
behaviors need to be developed over a period              data, material, and sources for quality of
of time such that they become ways of thinking,           content, validity, credibility, and relevance.
habits in how intellectual activities are pursued.        The student compares and contrasts sources
In other words, key cognitive strategies are              and findings and generates summaries and
patterns of intellectual behavior that lead to            explanations of source materials.
the development of cognitive strategies and
                                                      Reasoning, argumentation, proof: The student
capabilities necessary for college-level work.
                                                          constructs well-reasoned arguments or
The term key cognitive strategies invokes a
                                                          proofs to explain phenomena or issues;
more disciplined approach to thinking than
                                                          utilizes recognized forms of reasoning to
terms such as “dispositions” or “thinking
                                                          construct an argument and defend a point
skills.” The term indicates intentional and
                                                          of view or conclusion; accepts critiques of
practiced behaviors that become a habitual
                                                          or challenges to assertions; and addresses
way of working toward more thoughtful and
                                                          critiques and challenges by providing
intelligent action (Costa & Kallick, 2000).
                                                          a logical explanation or refutation, or

“Understanding and mastering key content knowledge
 is achieved through the exercise of broader cognitive
  skills embodied within the key cognitive strategies.”

    The specific key cognitive strategies                 by acknowledging the accuracy of the
referenced in this paper are those shown to               critique or challenge.
be closely related to college success.  They
                                                      Interpretation:     The     student      analyzes
include the following as the most important
                                                          competing and conflicting descriptions
manifestations of this way of thinking:
                                                          of an event or issue to determine the
Intellectual openness: The student possesses              strengths and flaws in each description
    curiosity and a thirst for deeper                     and any commonalities among or
    understanding, questions the views of                 distinctions between them; synthesizes
    others when those views are not logically             the results of an analysis of competing
    supported, accepts constructive criticism,            or conflicting descriptions of an event
    and changes personal views if warranted               or issue or phenomenon into a coherent
    by the evidence.  Such openmindedness                 explanation; states the interpretation that
    helps students understand the ways in                 is most likely correct or is most reasonable,
    which knowledge is constructed, broadens              based on the available evidence; and
    personal perspectives and helps students              presents orally or in writing an extended
    deal with the novelty and ambiguity often             description, summary, and evaluation of
    encountered in the study of new subjects              varied perspectives and conflicting points
    and new materials.                                    of view on a topic or issue.

Inquisitiveness: The student engages in active        Precision and accuracy: The student knows
    inquiry and dialogue about subject matter             what type of precision is appropriate to
    and research questions and seeks evidence             the task and the subject area, is able to
    to defend arguments, explanations, or                 increase precision and accuracy through
    lines of reasoning.  The student does not             successive approximations generated
    simply accept as given any assertion that             from a task or process that is repeated,

                                                                              Redefining College Readiness 
and uses precision appropriately to reach       A more complete exposition is contained in
      correct conclusions in the context of the       Understanding University Success, produced
      task or subject area at hand.                   by Standards for Success through a three-year
                                                      study in which more than 400 faculty and
 Problem solving: The student develops and            staff members from 20 research universities
      applies multiple strategies to solve routine    participated in extensive meetings and reviews
      problems, generate strategies to solve non-     to identify what students must do to succeed in
      routine problems, and applies methods           entry-level courses at their institutions (Conley,
      of problem solving to complex problems          2003a). These findings have been confirmed in
      requiring method-based problem solving.         subsequent studies.
      These key cognitive strategies are broadly
      representative of the foundational elements          This overview begins with two academic
      that underlie various “ways of knowing.”        skill areas that have repeatedly been identified
                                                      as being centrally important to college success:
     These are at the heart of the intellectual       writing and research. This is followed by brief
 endeavor of the university. They are necessary       narrative descriptions of content from a number
 to discern truth and meaning as well as to           of core academic areas.
 pursue them.  They are at the heart of how
 postsecondary faculty members think, and how
 they think about their subject areas. Without the    Overarching Academic Skills
 capability to think in these ways, the entering      Writing: Writing is the means by which
 college student either struggles mightily until          students are evaluated at least to some
 these habits begin to develop or misses out on           degree in nearly every postsecondary
 the largest portion of what college has to offer,        course.  Expository, descriptive, and
 which is how to think about the world.                   persuasive writing are particularly
                                                          important types of writing in college.
 Academic Knowledge and Skills                            Students are expected to write a lot in
                                                          college and to do so in relatively short
     Successful academic preparation for                  periods of time.  Students need to know
 college is grounded in two important                     how to pre-write, how to edit, and how
 dimensions—key         cognitive     strategies          to re-write a piece before it is submitted
 and content knowledge.  Understanding                    and, often, after it has been submitted
 and mastering key content knowledge is                   once and feedback has been provided.
 achieved through the exercise of broader                 College writing requires students to
 cognitive skills embodied within the key                 present arguments clearly, substantiate
 cognitive strategies. With this relationship in          each point, and utilize the basics of a
 mind, it is entirely proper and worthwhile to            style manual when constructing a paper.
 consider some of the general areas in which              College-level writing is largely free of
 students need strong grounding in content                grammatical, spelling, and usage errors.
 that is foundational to the understanding
                                                      Research: College courses increasingly require
 of academic disciplines.  The case for the
 importance of challenging content as the                 students to be able to identify and utilize
 framework for developing thinking skills                 appropriate strategies and methodologies
 and key cognitive strategies has been made               to explore and answer problems and to
 elsewhere and will not be repeated in depth              conduct research on a range of questions.
 here (Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 2000).                To do so, students must be able to
                                                          evaluate the appropriateness of a variety
     In order to illustrate the academic                  of source material and then synthesize
 knowledge and skills necessary for college               and incorporate the material into a paper
 success, a brief discussion of the key structures,       or report.  They must also be able to
 concepts, and knowledge of core academic                 access a variety of types of information
 subjects is presented below. This presentation           from a range of locations, formats, and
 is not a substitute for a comprehensive listing          source environments.
 of essential academic knowledge and skills.

 Redefining College Readiness
Core Academic Subjects Knowledge and                   addition to utilizing all the steps in the
Skills                                                 scientific method, students learn what it
                                                       means to think like a scientist. This includes
English: The knowledge and skills developed in         the communication conventions followed by
   entry-level English courses enable students         scientists, the way that empirical evidence
   to engage texts critically and create well          is used to draw conclusions, and how such
   written, organized, and supported work              conclusions are then subject to challenge and
   products in both oral and written formats.          interpretation. Students come to appreciate
   The foundations of English include reading          that scientific knowledge is both constant
   comprehension and literature, writing               and changing at any given moment, and
   and editing, information gathering, and             that the evolution of scientific knowledge
   analysis, critiques and connections.  To be         does not mean that previous knowledge
   ready to succeed in such courses, students          was necessarily “wrong.” Students grasp
   need to build vocabulary and word analysis          that scientists think in terms of models and
   skills, including roots and derivations.            systems as ways to comprehend complex
   These are the building blocks of advanced           phenomena.  This helps them make sense
   literacy.  Similarly, students need to utilize      out of the flow of ideas and concepts they
   techniques such as strategic reading that           encounter in entry-level college courses
   will help them read and understand a wide           and the overall structure of the scientific
   range of non-fiction and technical texts.           discipline they are studying.  In their
   Knowing how to slow down to understand              science courses, students master core
   key points, when to re-read a passage, and          concepts, principles, laws, and vocabulary
   how to underline key terms and concepts             of the scientific discipline being studied.
   strategically so that only the most important       Laboratory settings are the environments
   points are highlighted are examples of              where content knowledge and scientific
   strategies that aid comprehension and               key cognitive strategies converge to help
   retention of key content.                           students think scientifically and integrate
Math: Most important for success in college            learned content knowledge.
   math is a thorough understanding of the          Social Studies: The social sciences entail a
   basic concepts, principles, and techniques          range of subject areas, each with its own
   of algebra.  This is different than simply          content base and analytic techniques and
   having been exposed to these ideas. Much            conventions.  The courses an entry-level
   of the subsequent mathematics they will             college student most typically takes are in
   encounter draw upon or utilize these                geography, political science, economics,
   principles.  In addition, having learned            psychology, sociology, history, and the
   these elements of mathematical thinking             humanities.  The scientific methods that
   at a deep level, they understand what               are common across the social studies
   it means to understand mathematical                 emphasize the skills of interpreting sources,
   concepts deeply and are more likely to do           evaluating evidence and competing claims,
   so in subsequent areas of mathematical              and understanding themes and the overall
   study.  College-ready students possess              flow of events within larger frameworks or
   more than a formulaic understanding                 organizing structures. Helping students to
   of mathematics.  They have the ability to           be aware that the social sciences consist of
   apply conceptual understandings in order            certain “big ideas” (theories and concepts)
   to extract a problem from a context, use            that are used to order and structure all of
   mathematics to solve the problem, and               the detail that often overwhelms them
   then interpret the solution back into the           can help build mental scaffolds that lead
   context.  They know when and how to                 toward thinking like a social scientist.
   estimate to determine the reasonableness
   of answers and can use a calculator              World Languages: The goal of second language
   appropriately as a tool, not a crutch.              study is to communicate effectively with
                                                       and receive communication from speakers
Science: College science courses emphasize             of another language in authentic cultural
   scientific thinking in all their facets.  In

                                                                           Redefining College Readiness 
contexts through the skills of listening,        These are distinguished from key cognitive
      speaking, reading, and writing.  Learning        strategies by the fact that they tend to be more
      another language involves much more than         completely independent of a particular content
      memorizing a system of grammatical rules.        area, whereas the key cognitive strategies are
      It requires the learner to understand the        always developed within the ways of knowing
      cultures from which the language arises          a particular content area.  The key academic
      and in which it resides, use the language        behaviors consist largely of self-monitoring
      to communicate accurately, and use the           skills and study skills.
      learner’s first language and culture as a
      model for comparison with the language                Self-monitoring is a form of metacognition,
      and culture being learned. Second language       the ability to think about how one is thinking.
      proficiency can improve learning in other        Examples of metacognitive skills include:
      disciplines, such as English, history and art,   awareness of one’s current level of mastery
      and expand professional, personal, and           and understanding of a subject, including key
      social opportunities.  Language learners         misunderstandings and blind spots; the ability
      need to understand the structure and             to reflect on what worked and what needed
      conventions of a language, but not through       improvement in any particular academic task;
      word-for-word translation or memorization        the tendency to persist when presented with a
      of de-contextualized grammatical rules.          novel, difficult, or ambiguous task; the tendency
      Instead, students of a language need to          to identify and systematically select among and
      master meaning in more holistic ways and         employ a range of learning strategies; and the
      in context.                                      capability to transfer learning and strategies
                                                       from familiar settings and situations to new
 The Arts: The arts refer to college subject           ones (Bransford et al., 2000). Research on the
      areas including art history, dance, music,       thinking of effective learners has shown that
      theater, and visual arts. Students ready for     these individuals tend to monitor actively,
      college-level work in the arts possess an        regulate, evaluate, and direct their own
      understanding of and appreciation for the        thinking (Ritchhart, 2002).
      contributions made by the most innovative
      creators in the field.  Students come to
      understand themselves as instruments
      of communication and expression who
      demonstrate mastery of basic oral and
                                                              Key academic
      physical expression through sound,
      movement, and visual representations.
      They understand the role of the arts
      as an instrument of social and political
                                                           consist largely of
      expression.  They formulate and present
      difficult questions through their personal
                                                          self-monitoring and
      artistic visions.  They are able to justify
      their aesthetic decisions when creating or
                                                               study skills.
      performing a piece of work and know how
      to make decisions regarding the proper
      venue for performing or exhibiting any
      creative product.
                                                            Another important area of college readiness
                                                       is student mastery of the study skills necessary
 Academic Behaviors                                    for college success. The underlying premise is
                                                       simple: academic success requires the mastery
     This facet of college readiness encompasses       of key skills necessary to comprehend material
 a range of behaviors that reflect greater             and complete academic tasks successfully, and
 student     self-awareness,      self-monitoring,     the nature of college learning in particular
 and self-control of a series of processes and         requires that significant amounts of time be
 behaviors necessary for academic success.             devoted to learning outside of class for success

 Redefining College Readiness
to be achieved in class. Study skills encompass        cross-section of academicians and peers.  These
a range of active learning strategies that go          skills include the ability to collaborate and work in
far beyond reading the text and answering              a team; understand the norms of the “academic”
the homework questions.  Typical study-                culture and how one interacts with professors
skill behaviors include time management,               and others in that environment; interact with
preparing for and taking examinations,                 people from different backgrounds and cultures;
using information resources, taking class              communicate informally; and demonstrate
notes, and communicating with teachers and             leadership skills in a variety of settings.
advisors (Robbins, Lauver, Le, Davis, Langley,
& Carlstrom, 2004).  An additional critical                 Another important area of contextual
set of study skills is the ability to participate      awareness is known as “college knowledge.” This
successfully in a study group and recognize the        is information, formal and informal, stated and
critical importance of study groups to success         unstated, necessary for both gaining admission
in specific subjects. Examples of specific time        to and navigating within the postsecondary
management techniques and habits include:              system.  College knowledge includes an
accurately estimating how much time it takes           understanding of the following processes:
to complete all outstanding and anticipated            college admissions including curricular, testing,
tasks and allocating sufficient time to complete       and application requirements; college options
the tasks; using calendars and creating “to            and choices, including the tiered nature of
do” lists to organize studying into productive         postsecondary education; tuition costs and the
chunks of time; locating and utilizing settings        financial aid system; placement requirements,
conducive to proper study; and prioritizing            testing, and standards; the culture of college;
study time in relation to competing demands            and the challenge level of college courses,
such as work and socializing.                          including increasing expectations of higher
                                                       education (Lundell et al., 2004).

Contextual Skills and Awareness                            Admissions requirements, and timelines
                                                       in particular, are extremely complicated, and
    The importance of this broad category has          students often do not know or understand
only recently been highlighted as an ever-wider        the importance of either until it is too late.
range of students apply to college.  Contextual        Specific institutions have additional special
factors encompass primarily the privileged             requirements and exceptions that are not
information necessary to understand how                immediately evident. Financial aid options are
college operates as a system and culture. It is this   largely unknown or substantially misunderstood
lack of understanding of the context of college        by many students most in need of such support.
that causes many students to become alienated,         The economically well-off are more likely
frustrated, and even humiliated during the             to have this knowledge than working-class
freshman year and decide that college is not the       families or families whose children are the first
place for them. Examples of key context skills and     generation to attend college (Conley, 2005;
awareness include a systemic understanding of          Robbins et al., 2004; Venezia et al., 2004).
the postsecondary educational system combined
with specific knowledge of the norms, values, and          The next section provides an operational
conventions of interactions in the college context,    definition of college readiness that the
and the human relations skills necessary to cope       conceptual model helps to delineate.  The
within this system even if it is very different from   section seeks to include specific statements
the community the student has just left.               across all of the dimensions of college
                                                       readiness.  These statements are presented in
     This does not necessarily mean that students      a form that allows them to be measured or
need to disown their cultural backgrounds,             gauged.  The net result would be a profile of
heritage, and traditions, only that they need          college readiness that would help students
to understand the relationship between their           know the degree to which they were college-
cultural assumptions and those operating in            ready, and could eventually help high schools
college.  Success in college is enhanced for           in particular to know how well their programs
students who possess interpersonal and social          of study are preparing students to be ready for
skills that enable them to interact with a diverse     college success.

                                                                                Redefining College Readiness 
A Definition of College Readiness
     It is possible to compile very lengthy and             understanding of how experts in the subject
 detailed lists of the content knowledge students           area think.
 must know and the key cognitive strategies
 they must possess to be college-ready.  In                 4. Facility with a range of key intellectual and
 fact, a variety of such compilations have been             cognitive skills and capabilities that can be
                                                            broadly generalized as the ability to think.
 produced lately (Achieve, The Education Trust,
 & Thomas B.  Fordham Foundation, 2004;                     5. Reading and writing skills and strategies
 Conley, 2003, 2003a, 2004). In addition, others            sufficient to process the full range of textual
 have identified the academic behaviors and                 materials commonly encountered in entry-level
 context knowledge students need.                           college courses, and to respond successfully to
                                                            the written assignments commonly required
      Rather than repeat each of these previous             in such courses.
 lists in detail, it may be more useful to consider
 a highly representative list of knowledge, skills,         6. Mastery of key concepts and ways of
 and attributes a student should possess to be              thinking found in one or more scientific
 ready to succeed in entry-level college courses            disciplines sufficient to succeed in at least
 across a range of subjects and disciplines. Such           one introductory-level college course that
 a list attempts to capture “keystone” skills,              could conceivably lead toward a major that
 ones that can only be demonstrated if a set of             requires additional scientific knowledge
 subordinate and prerequisite knowledge and                 and expertise.
 skills are in place. The list is not intended to be all-
                                                            7. Comfort with a range of numeric concepts
 inclusive, but to suggest to the informed reader           and principles sufficient to take at least one
 the types of indicators that would be necessary            introductory level college course that could
 to gauge the more comprehensive notion of                  conceivably lead toward a major that requires
 college readiness presented in this paper.                 additional proficiency in mathematics.

                                                            8. Ability to accept critical feedback including
 General Characteristics                                    critiques of written work submitted or an
                                                            argument presented in class.
    Students who possess sufficient mastery
 of key cognitive strategies, key content                   9. Ability to assess objectively one’s level of
 knowledge,     academic    behaviors, and                  competence in a subject and to devise plans
 contextual knowledge would be defined as                   to complete course requirements in a timely
 being college-ready to the degree to which                 fashion and with a high degree of quality.
 they could demonstrate the following:
                                                            10. Ability to study independently and with a
   1. Consistent   intellectual growth    and               study group on a complex assignment requiring
   development over four years of high school               extensive out-of-class preparation that extends
   resulting from the study of increasingly                 over a reasonably long period of time.
   challenging, engaging, coherent academic
   content.                                                 11. Ability to interact successfully with a wide
                                                            range of faculty, staff, and students, including
   2. Deep understanding of and facility applying           among them many who come from different
   key foundational ideas and concepts from the             backgrounds and hold points of view different
   core academic subjects.                                  from the student’s.
   3. A strong grounding in the knowledge base              12. Understanding of the values and norms
   that underlies the key concepts of the core              of colleges, and within them, disciplinary
   academic disciplines as evidenced by the ability         subjects as the organizing structures for
   to use the knowledge to solve novel problems             intellectual  communities    that  pursue
   within a subject area, and to demonstrate an             common understandings and fundamental

 Redefining College Readiness
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