Parents say kids neither college nor career ready

Parents say kids neither college nor career ready

(N.Y.) Low-income and minority families do not believe their children are graduating from high school prepared for the rigor of college-level work, according to a new survey.

The findings come as state policy makers begin work on a new accountability expected under the Every Child Succeeds Act to stress the goal of college readiness .

But a statewide poll of New York parents commissioned by The Education Trust found that 62 percent of African American parents, 58 percent of Latino parents, and 56 percent of white parents agree that schools are not preparing students for college.

As a result, education leaders throughout the state have called on lawmakers and the governor to ensure that a more diverse range of parent voices are being heard when developing school accountability systems–and by extension, college and career ready standards–under ESSA.

“These findings give voice to the hopes and concerns of families of color, who want to ensure that their children are prepared for college when they leave high school,” Arva Rice, president and CEO of the New York Urban League, said in a statement. “Students of color and low-income students represent a majority of our state’s student population, and it is vital that their parents are being heard. ESSA is an opportunity to ensure that our state gives all students a quality education that prepares them for postsecondary success.”

States have new flexibility in designing their own accountability systems and how to intervene to support low-performing schools under ESSA, but are required to conduct outreach to all parents during the process, and establish expectations and objectives for meaningful parent and family involvement in the future.

And while the new law does not specifically call for students to be “college and career ready”–a term often associated with the Common Core State Standards and the Obama administration–it does call on states to adopt “challenging” academic standards that prepare students for the workplace or a postsecondary education.

According to the results of the latest Education Trust–New York poll, however, parents do not feel schools are accomplishing that goal. In fact, 27 percent of all parents surveyed said current high school graduates are not ready for college, career, vocational school or a basic job.

The survey also found gaps in priorities for improving schools among racial, ethnic and socioeconomic lines. African American and Latino parents were significantly more likely than white parents to say that schools should expand access to Advanced Placement courses, identify low-performing schools, create a clear and easy-to-understand accountability report card, and require improved academic performance of all student groups in order to boost performance. Lower-income parents responded similarly, opposed to wealthier parents.

Education officials and family advocates noted that the results of the poll suggested more outreach needed to be done as the state continues to develop its own new accountability plan–taking into account a representative group of parent recommendations and concerns.

“State leaders have the responsibility to engage authentic parent voices when they develop critical education policies,” Sam Radford, president of the District-Parent Coordinating Council of Buffalo, said in a statement. “Parents need to be at the table while the accountability system is being developed, as well as when schools are making decisions about how to address performance challenges.”