Leveraging ESSA: Strategies To Support Student K–12 to Postsecondary Transitions

With its focus on supporting state efforts to prepare all students for college and career, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) presents K–12 and postsecondary systems the opportunity to invest in meaningful partnerships that provide targeted supports and acceleration opportunities to help more students graduate high school prepared to succeed in college.

State K–12 and higher education leaders together must harness ESSA to build and scale programs proven to increase college readiness and success. These materials take a closer look at these opportunities, addressing the following questions:

  • What can be done to speed up those students who are ready for college-level coursework while in high school through strategies such as dual credit and early college?
  • How can we bring intervention strategies and developmental education content into high schools so that students who need more support can catch up before they graduate?

To ensure successful transitions between K–12 and postsecondary education, all high school students need access to speed up and catch up interventions, and cross-sector partnership is essential for these strategies to be successful. ESSA provides new opportunities for educators, institutional leaders, and policymakers to work together to identify gaps in the education pipeline and fill those holes so that all students can succeed in college, career, and life.

As states consider how to use these strategies to leverage ESSA to improve student transitions, they do not need to start from scratch. Already, leading higher education institutions and high schools are stepping up their partnerships to emphasize and prioritize college readiness by developing programs and resources to help students speed up and catch up. States should start by looking at ways to build and scale promising practices like these so more students are ready for and successfully transition to postsecondary education.

ESSA provides a tremendous opportunity for states to catalyze and deepen the partnerships between their K–12 and higher education systems to support student transitions across the K–16 pipeline. With more intentional partnerships focused on providing speed up and catch up opportunities aligned with college-ready expectations, more students will graduate high school, complete their postsecondary education, and enter the workforce successfully.

This brief is part of a series that Higher Ed for Higher Standards, in partnership with the Council of Chief State School Officers, the National Association of System Heads, and the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association, is releasing to support K–12 and higher education partnerships on state strategies for increasing college readiness and success through ESSA. This resource provides proven approaches to student supports that states can incorporate into their ESSA plans to help students transition successfully from high school to postsecondary education.

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Leveraging ESSA: Strategies To Support Student K–12 to Postsecondary Transitions