College Readiness: Preparing Students for Success

June 14, 2016
High School to College

Seventy-five percent of high school graduates are not prepared for college. This alarming statistic and other implications can be found in the latest College Readiness infographic.

Heading off to college unprepared for rigorous course requirements often means taking (and paying for) remedial classes. The disconnect between graduation requirements and the skills needed for college has resulted in an increasing number of students requiring remediation despite increases in graduation rates and college enrollment.

What is College Readiness?

When it comes to college, eligibility and preparedness are two different things. College readiness is the ability for students to demonstrate the knowledge and skills required to successfully complete freshman-level college courses, including math, English literature, and composition classes. Graduation requirements, including credit attainment, exit and end-of-course exams often assess minimum mastery, but don't adequately assess readiness to succeed in rigorous college classrooms.

Students must have a solid foundation of lifelong learning skills, defined by the College and Career Readiness and Success Center as "a group of cognitive, personal, and interpersonal skills that enable students to both acquire and act on knowledge."

Why Are Many Students Unprepared for College?

According to a recent report by the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, there is a "college-readiness gap" that is not being addressed by college-preparatory curriculum. According to the report: "Even a recognized college-preparatory curriculum does not ensure the development of the critical thinking skills associated with reading, writing, and math that are necessary for college-level learning. These are the fundamental cross-cutting skills needed for college success in all subject areas."

According to the report, courses and seat-time do not guarantee skills and knowledge. Students learn material at varying rates and have different styles of learning that can't be uniformly addressed by traditional classroom instruction. A more student-centric approach is needed, wherein the higher level learning skills needed to complete college freshman courses are mastered along with the subject matter.

Prepare Students to Increase Readiness with Digital Curriculum

Laying the groundwork for college readiness begins long before graduation. Digital curriculum can be leveraged to provide prescriptive assessment, identifying and addressing learning gaps. Real-time data ensures that personalized learning plans are continually assessed and altered for each student, putting them on a path to success. Here's how:

Identify Learning Gaps. Formative assessment, identifying what students have learned and what concepts they need to master, is the first step toward building the skills and knowledge needed for college readiness. Periodic low-stakes assessment to check for understanding provides teachers with data they can use to group students and provide appropriate instructional intervention as a part of the learning process.

Deepen Understanding and Engagement. Active learning increases engagement and improves conceptual understanding through real-world examples and application woven into instruction. Students learn by DOING, and work to develop deep understanding that can be demonstrated on various federal and state accountability assessments such as end-of-course exams, ACT, and SAT.

Get Results: Students build a strong foundation for postsecondary success that can be demonstrated on college entrance exams and successful completion of college-level coursework. 


Apex Learning College Readiness Tutorials close the college-readiness gap and prepare students for the concepts tested by the SAT®, GED, ACT®, ACCUPLACER®, and TSI. Learn about Apex Learning's College Readiness Tutorials.


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