For traditional college freshmen, the gap between high school and college is easy to step across — a few months, at the most, between graduating from one institution and enrolling at another. For those institutions, though, the distance between K-12 and higher education is often more like an unbridgeable chasm.
That’s not for lack of trying. In recent years, states have created "K-16" or "P-20" councils, groups of high-level officials from both systems aiming to align K-12 education with postsecondary goals. Often, though, the councils' work hasn’t taken off, or has devolved through finger-pointing to a stalemate and status quo.
As elementary and secondary schools in 45 states and the District of Columbia work to implement new, more rigorous and increasingly controversial standards for math and language arts, though, that stalemate might be easing. The new standards, known the Common Core State Standards Initiative, for the first time make college and career readiness for every high school graduate an explicit, nearly nationwide goal. The first set of assessments is fast approaching, in the 2014-15 academic year.
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