College and career readiness is at the heart of California’s State Standards. State policymakers have emphasized the need to better align K–12 education systems with higher education to ensure a more seamless transition for young adults between high school and college, and between high school and the labor market. This is critically important, as California’s education system is highly fragmented. K-12 schools, community colleges, and the two university systems (CSU and UC) operate under entirely separate governance structures, and rely on distinct sources of funding. As a result, these different "segments" of the education system generally operate independently of one another, developing policies and practices to serve their own students with little or no effort to consult with other segments. Intersegmental partnerships can provide the institutional framework for the multiple segments in California’s education system to work together to tackle these large problems. In this project, PACE researchers investigate where California’s students attend college and how they are doing and how local partnerships between and among segments can work to strengthen alignment in standards and expectations between K-12 and post-secondary education, with the goal of accelerating students’ progress through the system.
The Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBAC), implemented in California in 2014–15 as part of the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress, is designed to evaluate students’ levels of college and career readiness. Student scores on the Smarter Balanced Assessment are currently used for both accountability and school improvement purposes. Aligned with Common Core State Standards for college readiness, student performance on the Smarter Balanced Assessment may also predict students’ success in college in a manner similar to other commonly used assessments for predicting college success.