Leveraging ESSA: States Leading on Alignment of K-12 and Higher Education

This brief details promising examples of K–12 and higher education alignment in the 17 ESSA state plans submitted in the first round in April 2017 and offers suggested actions in the following areas for states that have yet to submit: standards and assessments; accountability, including long-term goals and targets and college and career readiness measures in school ratings; and student postsecondary transition supports.

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States Leading on Alignment of K–12 and Higher Education in Round 1
This brief details the extent to which the first seventeen states included alignment strategies in ESSA plans submitted in April 2017 and provides suggested actions for states that will be submitting ESSA plans during round 2 in September 2017.
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Over the past several years, K–12 and higher education leaders across the country have partnered to make college and career readiness a priority and build seamless secondary to postsecondary transitions. With the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), states have an invaluable opportunity to double down on alignment for student success.

Working together, K–12 and higher education can deliver an education system that closes equity gaps, improves the earning potential of our citizens, and allows our states to cultivate a robust workforce that is capable of sustaining and building a 21st century economy.

The Opportunity Remains

K–12 and higher education leaders must work together to help all students attain a postsecondary credential or degree. ESSA presents a clear opportunity for leaders from both sectors to formalize their shared ownership for long-term student success. For state leaders that have yet to submit their ESSA plan, drawing upon the examples outlined in this brief is important to strengthen their approaches to K–12/higher education collaboration and support student success. For those that have already submitted their plans, it is time to collaborate on implementation, identifying opportunities to develop, align, and scale transition strategies. Regardless of where a state is in the ESSA plan process, opportunities abound to support student transitions into postsecondary education and training. The time to act is now.