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College-Ready Standards

In an effort to better prepare students for post-high school study and work, states are increasing expectations of high school students and using assessments to determine if such students are on the way to college readiness.

College/Employer Recommended Curriculum: Very few states have adopted high school graduation requirements that prepare students to enter postsecondary education or entry-level employment. Among the potential gaps:

  • The number of units and/or the specific courses required for high school graduation are not aligned with those required for college admissions.

  • The content is not challenging enough or does not adequately address the skills to prepare students for postsecondary coursework or on-the-job demands.

  • Students have completed most of their course requirements by the beginning or middle of their senior year and are not taking other courses to retain their knowledge and skills during those last months before college or work.
A growing body of recent research (see, for example, Achieve's 2004 report Ready or Not: Creating a High School Diploma That Counts) stresses that postsecondary entrance requirements are well-aligned, if not identical, to the skill levels required by employers for entry-level workers.

Many colleges and employers recommend that states mandate a high school curriculum for all students that includes the following:
4 units English
3 units math, including Algebra I and II and geometry
3 units lab science
3 units social studies

State requires all students to take ACT/SAT: A handful of states require all students, regardless of their post-high school aspirations, to take the ACT or SAT. Such policies are viewed as mechanisms to encourage more students to apply to college, and as exams that students will take more seriously than traditional state assessments.

College-Readiness Rates: These data are drawn from the February 2005 Manhattan Institute report Public High School Graduation and College-Readiness Rates: 1991-2002 by Jay P. Greene, Ph.D. and Marcus A. Winters. Students had to meet three criteria to be defined "college-ready" in the study: (1) Graduate from high school with a regular diploma; (2) Have completed four years of English, three years of math, and two years each of natural science, social science, and foreign language; and (3) score at the basic level or above on the NAEP reading assessment.

This database was compiled by Jennifer Dounay, project manager, ECS High School Policy Center. For questions, additions or corrections: 303.299.3689 or jdounay@ecs.org.

College/employer recommended curriculum mandated for all students State requires all students to take ACT or SAT Manhattan Institute college-readiness rate (2002) Sources
Alabama
  • No
  • No
  • Hispanic: N/A
    African-American: 22%
    White: 37%
    Total: 32%
    Alaska
  • No
  • No
  • Hispanic: N/A
    African-American: N/A
    White: N/A
    Total: 27%
    American Samoa
  • No
  • No
  • N/A
    Arizona
  • No
  • No
  • Hispanic: N/A
    African-American: N/A
    White: N/A
    Total: 33%
    Arkansas
  • Effective Class of 2010
  • No
  • Hispanic: N/A
    African-American: 29%
    White: 45%
    Total: 40%
    Recommended curriculum: Code Ark. R. 005 19 007
    California
  • No
  • No
  • Hispanic: 22%
    African-American: 22%
    White: 39%
    Total: 32%
    Colorado
  • No
  • Yes-ACT
  • Hispanic: 19%
    African-American: 23%
    White: 41%
    Total: 34%
    ACT: COLO. REV. STAT. ANN. § 22-7-409
    Connecticut
  • No
  • No
  • Hispanic: 15%
    African-American: 30%
    White: 47%
    Total: 40%
    Delaware
  • Effective Class of 2011
  • No
  • Hispanic: N/A
    African-American: 27%
    White: 36%
    Total: 32%
    Recommended curriculum: Code Del Regs. 14 100 6.0, 14 505
    District of Columbia
  • No
  • No
  • N/A
    Florida
  • No
  • No
  • Hispanic: 24%
    African-American: 21%
    White: 40%
    Total: 33%
    Georgia
  • No
  • No
  • Hispanic: N/A
    African-American: 21%
    White: 38%
    Total: 31%
    Hawaii
  • No
  • No
  • Hispanic: N/A
    African-American: N/A
    White: N/A
    Total: 30%
    Idaho
  • No
  • Yes-ACT, SAT or COMPASS
    Notes/Citation: Eff. Class of 2012
  • Hispanic: N/A
    African-American: N/A
    White: N/A
    Total: 35%
    Illinois
  • No
  • Yes-ACT
  • Hispanic: 12%
    African-American: 14%
    White: 36%
    Total: 29%
    ACT: 105 ILL. COMP. STAT. ANN. 5/2-3.64
    Indiana
  • Effective Class of 2011
  • No
  • Hispanic: N/A
    African-American: 14%
    White: 32%
    Total: 28%
    Recommended curriculum: IND. CODE ANN. § 20-10.1-16-13
    Iowa
  • No
  • No
  • Hispanic: N/A
    African-American: 17%
    White: 37%
    Total: 34%
    Kansas
  • No
  • No
  • Hispanic: N/A
    African-American: N/A
    White: N/A
    Total: 31%
    Kentucky
  • Effective Class of 2012
  • Yes-ACT
    Notes/Citation: Effective spring 2008
  • Hispanic: N/A
    African-American: 25%
    White: 42%
    Total: 37%
    Recommended curriculum: 704 KY. ADMIN. REGS. 3:305
    ACT: KY. REV. STAT. ANN. § 158.6453
    Louisiana
  • No
  • No
  • Hispanic: 35%
    African-American: 24%
    White: 41%
    Total: 35%
    Maine
  • No
  • Yes-SAT
  • Hispanic: N/A
    African-American: N/A
    White: 40%
    Total: 38%
    SAT: Department policy
    Maryland
  • No
  • No
  • Hispanic: 21%
    African-American: 34%
    White: 43%
    Total: 39%
    Massachusetts
  • No
  • No
  • Hispanic: 14%
    African-American: 29%
    White: 43%
    Total: 38%
    Michigan
  • Effective Class of 2011
  • Yes-ACT
  • Hispanic: 11%
    African-American: 15%
    White: 33%
    Total: 31%
    ACT: MICH. COMP. LAWS ANN. § 380.1279g
    Minnesota
  • Effective Class of 2015
  • No
  • Hispanic: N/A
    African-American: 15%
    White: 37%
    Total: 33%
    Recommended curriculum: MINN. STAT. ANN. § 120B.023
    Mississippi
  • No
  • No
  • Hispanic: N/A
    African-American: 25%
    White: 38%
    Total: 33%
    Missouri
  • No
  • No
  • Hispanic: N/A
    African-American: 18%
    White: 33%
    Total: 30%
    Montana
  • No
  • No
  • Hispanic: N/A
    African-American: N/A
    White: 41%
    Total: 36%
    Nebraska
  • No
  • No
  • Hispanic: 14%
    African-American: 14%
    White: 37%
    Total: 33%
    Nevada
  • No
  • No
  • Hispanic: N/A
    African-American: 25%
    White: 39%
    Total: 32%
    New Hampshire
  • No
  • No
  • Hispanic: N/A
    African-American: N/A
    White: N/A
    Total: 40%
    New Jersey
  • No
  • No
  • Hispanic: N/A
    African-American: N/A
    White: N/A
    Total: 45%
    New Mexico
  • No
  • No
  • Hispanic: N/A
    African-American: N/A
    White: N/A
    Total: 30%
    New York
  • No
  • No
  • Hispanic: 11%
    African-American: 21%
    White: 43%
    Total: 32%
    North Carolina
  • No
  • No
  • Hispanic: N/A
    African-American: N/A
    White: N/A
    Total: 37%
    North Dakota
  • No
  • No
  • Hispanic: N/A
    African-American: N/A
    White: 37%
    Total: 33%
    Ohio
  • No
  • No
  • Hispanic: 13%
    African-American: 15%
    White: 35%
    Total: 31%
    Oklahoma
  • No
  • No
  • Hispanic: 24%
    African-American: 27%
    White: 42%
    Total: 37%
    Oregon
  • No
  • No
  • Hispanic: 20%
    African-American: 23%
    White: 37%
    Total: 33%
    Pennsylvania
  • No
  • No
  • Hispanic: N/A
    African-American: 28%
    White: 46%
    Total: 41%
    Puerto Rico
  • No
  • No
  • N/A
    Rhode Island
  • No
  • No
  • Hispanic: N/A
    African-American: 35%
    White: 39%
    Total: 37%
    South Carolina
  • No
  • No
  • Hispanic: N/A
    African-American: N/A
    White: N/A
    Total: 29%
    South Dakota
  • Effective Class of 2010
  • No
  • Hispanic: N/A
    African-American: N/A
    White: 34%
    Total: 30%
    Recommended curriculum: S.D. CODIFIED LAWS § 13-33-19; S.D. ADMIN. R. 24:43:11
    Tennessee
  • No
  • No
  • Hispanic: N/A
    African-American: N/A
    White: N/A
    Total: 31%
    Texas
  • Effective Class of 2008
  • No
  • Hispanic: 23%
    African-American: 25%
    White: 40%
    Total: 32%
    Recommended curriculum: TEX. EDUC. CODE ANN. § 74.51, 74.61
    Utah
  • No
  • No
  • Hispanic: N/A
    African-American: N/A
    White: 42%
    Total: 37%
    Vermont
  • No
  • No
  • Hispanic: N/A
    African-American: N/A
    White: N/A
    Total: 39%
    Virgin Islands
  • No
  • No
  • N/A
    Virginia
  • No
  • No
  • Hispanic: N/A
    African-American: 27%
    White: 46%
    Total: 40%
    Washington
  • No
  • No
  • Hispanic: 22%
    African-American: 22%
    White: 38%
    Total: 34%
    West Virginia
  • No
  • No
  • Hispanic: N/A
    African-American: 29%
    White: 46%
    Total: 41%
    Wisconsin
  • No
  • No
  • Hispanic: N/A
    African-American: 14%
    White: 38%
    Total: 34%
    Wyoming
  • No
  • Yes-ACT
  • Hispanic: 24%
    African-American: N/A
    White: 38%
    Total: 34%
    ACT: WYO. STAT. ANN. § 21-3-110, 21-2-202


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