There is a lot of chatter in higher education circles, and beyond, about college readiness, and in each of those conversations the meaning of readiness varies dramatically. For some, readiness refers to students’ preparedness to complete the college search and enrollment process, while others believe readiness amounts to content knowledge in a certain discipline. For the state of Texas, readiness refers to students’ ability to succeed in credit-bearing coursework upon entry into higher education.
A comprehensive definition of readiness encompasses both the ability to successfully complete all of the tasks of enrolling and successfully participating in higher education. Surprisingly, most faculty in higher education do not expect students to arrive with vast content knowledge or mastery of disciplinary ideas. Still, in many of the conversations about readiness, there is an explicit assumption: students are either ready or not. Our work suggests otherwise. This leads us to offer three key ideas about readiness:
1) Readiness is NOT a binary.
Too many conversations focus on students as either “READY” or “NOT READY” and fail to recognize the spectrum of readiness dimensions. Students can be ready and successfully enroll in college yet lack the skills to be successful in the classroom. Students can be ready to be successful in some content areas and not others. Still more students arrive with high content area expertise, but they lack the motivation and self-regulation necessary for success. Therefore, it is more helpful, and truer to experience, to think of readiness as existing in several areas. It is the extraordinarily rare student who arrives at college ready to succeed in every domain. However, considering most students who begin higher education persist and obtain a degree, readiness must be something students can achieve…
2) Readiness is achievable.
When we remove the false dichotomy about readiness from our thinking, it is easy to understand a definition of readiness that is achievable. All students can achieve some measure of college readiness, especially when they are presented with an idea of readiness that is organized to help them with their specific goals. For instance, not all students needs to be calculus-ready when statistics is more helpful for or required in their chosen majors. All students need to learn self-motivation and self-regulation to successfully navigate the adult world of college and career, and these are skills that students can work toward. In fact, most of us are always in the process of working to motivate ourselves and balance an array of competing interests.
3) Readiness is teachable.
Our final key to readiness, and an idea that surrounds all of the work on CRAFTx.org, is that readiness is teachable. Students don’t magically become college ready; teachers must educate students about what it means to be ready and what readiness looks like across all dimensions. CRAFTx.org is designed to help achieve this goal. Teachers can download CRAs and scoring guides for use in the classroom. In addition, students can participate in independent study CRAs to improve readiness. Educators can learn tips about the dimensions of readiness by watching videos or examining resources. Most importantly, the Texas College and Career Readiness standards help organize the various dimensions of readiness in a way that is understandable, achievable, and teachable.
Join us in spreading the three key ideas about readiness!