Core to College Evaluation: Sustaining Core Strength, How Core to College States Continue Alignment Efforts Between K-12 and Higher Education

  • Description

The evaluation team collected general data on states' Common Core efforts by reviewing recent news articles, journals, online documents, and systems-change literature. Using this knowledge base, the team drafted driving research questions for this final report that focused on exploring how states' higher education systems are involved in standards efforts today, including aligning course sequences, updating placement policies, and supporting faculty awareness of college readiness standards. These research questions informed an interview protocol through which the team engaged several Core to College states in semi-structured conversations.

The WestEd team spoke by phone with key Core to College contacts from seven of the Core to College states: Colorado, Hawai'i, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Washington. These individuals (many held the title of Alignment Director under the grant) had been part of the Core to College work and, for the most part, are still involved in work that has evolved from the initiative. The other four states involved in the initiative did not have applicable staff for the team to speak with.

This report uses a case-study approach to describe how three of the Core to College states -- Washington, Hawai'i, and Louisiana -- continue their Core to College–initiated efforts of aligning K–12 and postsecondary education systems to better prepare students for college. The case studies include details about key components of each state's respective Core to College work, including the state's history with systemschange efforts in education; key staff and organizations that "championed" the Core to College efforts and promoted cross‑system collaboration; specific strategies used to align the state's K–12 and higher education systems; the state's approach to standardized assessments and course-placement policies; and key outcomes of the Core to Collegerelated efforts.