UA Adopts a Definition of College Readiness

The University of Alaska, as a public, open-enrollment state university enrolls high rates of students requiring developmental education courses in math and English to prepare them for credit-bearing coursework. The percentage of Alaska students enrolling in developmental education courses has exceeded 50 percent in recent years.

In June 2013, more than 30 Alaska State Policy Research Alliance (ASPRA) members, including UA representatives, gathered to delve into issues surrounding postsecondary success and develop a statewide system for monitoring student progress toward college, career, and life readiness and success—and a common system for defining what it means to be prepared for postsecondary education. An important part of that discussion was including local context into the definition, in particular, our Alaska Native cultural values and Alaska’s unique economic contexts.

Just two months ago, a study by the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance (NCEE) found that Alaska Native students from rural areas of the state and African American students from urban areas of the state had lower average scores across all standardized exams used for placement and therefore higher developmental education placement rates compared with other students. One way to address the needs of these students is to improve their awareness of college readiness standards before their senior year in high school.

For these and other reasons, the University of Alaska has spent considerable time exploring a clear and concise definition of college readiness. The Faculty Alliance, for example, has put a great deal of work into creating a detailed definition, but it was never formalized until last month when UA President Jim Johnsen accepted and adopted the Faculty Alliance concise definition adding: “A student who is college ready has the knowledge and skills needed to enroll in and succeed in credit-bearing courses at the University of Alaska.”

In a memo distributed to faculty and staff, he asked that the final version be reviewed by Faculty Alliance annually beginning in Fall 2016.

College Readiness definition:

The University of Alaska defines college readiness as a combination of skills and abilities that position students for success. These include strong academic preparation, effective work and learning habits, knowledge of college culture and expectations, well-defined goals, and the ability to engage in independent problem solving. A student who is college ready has the knowledge and skills needed to enroll in and succeed in first-year courses at the University of Alaska. 

Creating this definition is a first step in aligning the needs of students once they enter the university system with the training and preparation offered through K-12 education systems.

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