In recent years, the U.S. has adopted an ambitious college-for-all policy that aims for every high school graduate to complete a college credential. Our increasingly information- and technologybased society has made postsecondary education crucial to individual economic success so high school is now seen primarily as a mechanism to prepare students for postsecondary education. This policy has dramatically increased access to postsecondary education, encouraging many students to attend college who never would have in prior decades. But many of those students have gone to college with academic skills insuffi cient to complete a bachelor’s degree. The oft-repeated college- and career-ready goal is vague and open to interpretation. Some of the most prominent interpretations support preparing students for careers by preparing them for the academic rigors of college. Florida has taken a leading role in ensuring that students are college- and career-ready, which the state defi nes as having “the knowledge, skills, and academic preparation needed to enroll and succeed in introductory college credit-bearing courses within an associate or baccalaureate degree program without the need for remediation” (Florida Department of Education, 2015a). This notion of college-and career-readiness attempts to transform students who would ordinarily stop at a high school diploma into students who are ready for college. Although this is a noble goal, Florida still experiences high numbers of college dropouts, both at community colleges and four-year, degree-granting institutions. Our Florida research has found that K-12 teachers have doubts about the prevailing interpretation of college- and career-readiness. Teachers question whether most of their students can achieve that goal, and they’re eager for alternative postsecondary options for their low-achieving students.
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