College and Career Readiness Begins With a Well-Rounded Education: Opportunities Under the Every Student Succeeds Act

David English, Ellen Cushing, Susan Therriault, and Jeremy Rasmussen

Image of report coverAlthough overall graduation rates are rising, many schools are still not ensuring that all students graduate college and career ready. The well-rounded education provision in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) provides an opportunity for states to operationalize their college and career readiness vision. By incorporating college and career readiness principles into a well-rounded education, states, and districts can leverage federal funding for a well-rounded education to support college and career readiness strategies.

This brief describes how states can develop and implement their own definitions of a well-rounded education focused on improving college and career readiness by incorporating:

  • Alignment with the state’s definition of college and career readiness
  • Employment-focused content aligned with the needs of employers that prioritizes STEM, career and technical education, and employability skills
  • Rigorous academic course-taking sequences and advanced coursework (AP/IB, etc.)
  • Work-based learning experiences that include career awareness, exploration, preparation, and training