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Creating a High School Diploma

That Counts

National Association of State Directors of Career


and Technical Education
April 10, 2006
American Diploma Project

■ How well prepared are our students for the 
world after high school?
■ What does it mean to be prepared for college 
and work?
■ Do we expect all of our students to be prepared?
■ Closing the expectations gap — what will it 
take?
■ Progress in closing the gap:  2005 ­ 2006
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American Diploma Project

How well prepared are our
students?

AMERICAN DIPLOMA PROJECT NETWORK 3


American Diploma Project
Not as well prepared as they need to be:
■ 30% of 9th graders drop out without earning a hs 
diploma
■ Only half of African American and Hispanic 
students graduate within 4 years
■ 30% of 1st year college students require remediation
■ 40 – 45% of recent high school graduates report 
significant gaps in their schools, for college and 
work
■ Employers and college faculty report 40­45% of 
recent hs grads are not well prepared
AMERICAN DIPLOMA PROJECT NETWORK 4
American Diploma Project

What does it take to be
prepared for postsecondary 
education and work?

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American Diploma Project

■ Partnership of Achieve, Inc.; The Education Trust; 
and the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation.
■ Partnered with Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, 
Nevada and Texas.
■ Involved wide variety of K–12, higher education 
and business representatives.
■ Key finding: Unprecedented convergence of skills 
required for success in college and work.
■ Higher education and employers emphasize 
importance of workers being able to think creatively 
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Expectations are the same for
both college & “good jobs”

■ The knowledge & skills that high school 
graduates will need in order to be successful 
in college are the same as those they will 
need  in order to be successful in a job that 
● pays enough to support a family well above the 
poverty level, 
● provides benefits, & 

● offers clear pathways for career advancement 
AMERICAN through further education & training.
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ADP expectations ensure high
school graduates are prepared
to succeed
■ In English, the  ■ In math, the 
benchmarks cover: benchmarks cover:
● Language ● Number sense and 
● Communication numerical operations
● Writing ● Algebra
● Research ● Geometry
● Logic ● Data interpretations, 
statistics and probability
● Informational text
● Math reasoning skills
● Media
● Literature

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ADP Mathematics Benchmarks

■ Perform basic operations on algebraic expressions 
fluently and accurately.
■ Graph ellipses and hyperbolas….and demonstrate 
an understanding of the relationship between 
standards algebraic form and their graphical 
characteristics.
■ Recognize and solve problems that can be modeled 
using a system of two equations and two 
variables…
■ Know about the similarity of figures and use the 
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To be college and work ready,
students need to complete a
rigorous sequence of courses
To cover the content in the ADP benchmarks, high 
school graduates need: 
■  In math: ■  In English:
● Four courses ● Four courses
● Content equivalent to  ● Content equivalent to 
Algebra I and II,  four years of grade­level 
Geometry, and a fourth  English or higher  (i.e., 
course such as Statistics  honors or AP English)
or Precalculus

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Recommended Math Courses for
16 CTE Career Clusters
Algebra I,  Trigonometry, Pre­Calculus, or Statistics  Trigonometry, Pre­
Geometry, &  Calculus, or 
Algebra II Calculus
■Arts, A/V  ■Architecture &  ■Human Services ■Agriculture, Food & 
Technology &  Construction Natural Resources
■Information 
Communications
■Business,  Technology ■Education & 
Management, &  Training
■Manufacturing
Administration
■Health Science
■Marketing, Sales 
■Finance
and Service ■Law, Public Safety, 
■Government &  Corrections& 
■Transportation, 
Public Administration Security
Distribution & 
■Hospitality and  Logistics ■Science, 
Tourism  Technology, 
Engineering and 
Mathematics
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Comparable levels of math required
for college and workforce training

■ ACT found comparable levels of math skills in 
algebra and algebraic thinking, geometry and 
geometric thinking, and data representation and 
statistical thinking, required for “college ready” 
benchmark on ACT, and workforce training 
readiness on WorkKeys for jobs that offer a livable 
wage and are projected to grow, but do not require a 
bachelor’s degree.

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American Diploma Project

What do we expect of our
high school graduates?

States set:
■ Standards

■ Course­taking requirements
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State high school standards not
always anchored in real-world
expectations

■ In most states, standards reflect a consensus among 
discipline­based experts about what would be 
important for young people to learn – not a 
reflection of what would be essential to know to 
succeed at the next level.
■ Few states’ postsecondary faculty and employers 
have verified that state high school standards reflect 
their expectations.

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44 states require students to take
certain courses to graduate from
high school
W A M
M T ND E

OR M N VT
NH
ID SD W I M NY M A
W Y I RI
CT
IA PA
CA NV NE NJ
OH M D
UT IL IN DE
W V
CO
KS M O VA
KY

NC
TN
AZ OK
NM AR SC

M S AL
GA
TX LA

AK
FL

HI

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23 states require Algebra I
W A M
M T ND E

OR M N VT
NH
ID SD W I M NY M A
W Y I

IA PA
CA NV NE
OH M D
UT IL IN
W V
CO
KS M O VA
KY

NC
TN
AZ OK
NM AR SC

M S AL
GA
TX LA

AK
FL

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16 states require Geometry
W A M
M T ND E

OR M N VT
NH
ID SD W I M NY M A
W Y I

IA PA
CA NV NE
OH M D
UT IL IN
CO W V
KS M O VA
KY

NC
TN
AZ OK
NM AR SC

M S AL
GA
TX LA

AK
FL

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Only 8 states require Algebra II
W A M
M T ND E

OR M N VT
NH
ID SD W I M NY M A
W Y I

IA PA
CA NV NE
OH M D
UT IL IN
W V
CO
KS M O VA
KY

NC
TN
AZ OK
NM AR SC

M S AL
GA
TX LA

AK
FL

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Do assessments measure
“college-ready” skills?

■ Half the states require students to pass one or more 
exams to earn a high school diploma.

What does it take to pass these tests?

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Students can pass state math tests
knowing content typically taught in
7th and 8th grade internationally
Grade when most international students cover content
required to pass state math tests
12
International Grade Placement

11
10
9 8.6
8.1 8.2 8.3
8 7.4
7.1
7
6
5
FL MD MA NJ OH TX
Source: Achieve, Inc., Do Graduation Tests Measure Up? A Closer Look at State High School Exit Exams, 2004.

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Reading tests downplay
higher-level skills
60%
55%
50%
Percentage of total points

40%

30%
20%
20%
13% 12%
10%

0%
Recall Infer Explain Analyze
Source: Achieve, Inc., Do Graduation Tests Measure Up? A Closer Look at State High School Exit Exams, 2004.

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American Diploma Project

What do recent high school 
graduates tell us about the 
expectations they faced?

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Knowing what they know today,
high school graduates would have
worked harder
Would have applied myself more
100%
77%
75% 65%

50%

25%

0%
Graduates who Graduates who did
went to college not go to college
Source: Peter D. Hart Research Associates/Public Opinion Strategies, Rising to the Challenge: Are High School Graduates 
Prepared for College and Work? prepared for Achieve, Inc., 2005.
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If high school had demanded
more, graduates would have
worked harder
82%  Would have
80%
worked harder
18% 17%
 Strongly feel 
would have 
worked harder
 Wouldn’t have 
64% 63%
worked harder

18%
15%

High school graduates who  High school graduates 
went to college who did not go to college
Source: Peter D. Hart Research Associates/Public Opinion Strategies, Rising to the Challenge: Are High School Graduates 
Prepared for College and Work? prepared for Achieve, Inc., 2005.
AMERICAN DIPLOMA PROJECT NETWORK 24
Majority of graduates would have
taken harder courses
Knowing what you know today about the expectations of
college/work … College students
Students who did not go to college
Would have taken more 
challenging courses in at  62%
least one area 72%

Would have taken  34%
more challenging  Math 48%
courses in:

32%
Science
41%
Source: Peter D. Hart Research 
Associates/Public Opinion Strategies, 
29% Rising to the Challenge: Are High 
English 38% School Graduates Prepared for 
College and Work? prepared for 
Achieve, Inc., 2005.

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Algebra II critical for college and
work
High school graduates extremely or very well prepared for
expectations of college/work
100% Completed less than Algebra II
Completed Algebra II/more
75% 68%
60%
46%
50%
26%
25%

0%
College students Students who did not go to
college
Source: Peter D. Hart Research Associates/Public Opinion Strategies, Rising to the Challenge: Are High School Graduates 
Prepared for College and Work? prepared for Achieve, Inc., 2005.
AMERICAN DIPLOMA PROJECT NETWORK 26
American Diploma Project

What will it take to close the 
expectations gap?

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Closing the expectations gap
requires states to take action
■ Align high school standards and assessments with the knowledge 
and skills required for success in postsecondary education and 
work.  
■ Administer a college­ and work­ready assessment, aligned to 
state standards, to high school students so they get clear and 
timely information and are able to address critical skill 
deficiencies while still in high school.  
■ Require all students to take a college­ and work­ready curriculum 
to earn a high school diploma.  
■ Hold high schools accountable for graduating students who are 
college ready, and hold postsecondary institutions accountable 
for their success once enrolled.
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ADP Network: 22 states committed
to improving student achievement

MN
OR MA
ID
MI RI
PA NJ
IN OH DE
MD
CO
KY
NC
OK AR
GA
MS AL
TX LA

FL

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American Diploma Project
Network

Progress in Closing the 
Expectations Gap
2005 ­ 2006

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Making Progress

Source: Achieve Survey/Research, 2006.

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Making Progress

Source: Achieve Survey/Research, 2006.

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Making Progress

Source: Achieve Survey/Research, 2006.

AMERICAN DIPLOMA PROJECT NETWORK 33


Making Progress

Source: Achieve Survey/Research, 2006.

AMERICAN DIPLOMA PROJECT NETWORK 34


Making Progress

Source: Achieve Survey/Research, 2006.

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Making Progress

Source: Achieve Survey/Research, 2006.

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For more information,
please visit Achieve, Inc., on the Web at

http://www.achieve.org

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Creating a High School Diploma
That Counts

National Association of State Directors of Career


and Technical Education
April 10, 2006