New Models Redefine Readiness for Education and Employability

Three college students sitting at a table working together in a library

A famous joke pictures an English teacher trying to get his lethargic students to imagine themselves dealing with the difficult circumstances Shakespeare’s Hamlet faces. He asks his class, “So, what would you do if you returned from college and found your father murdered, your uncle, the murderer, married to your mother, your girlfriend having a nervous breakdown, and your kingdom in shambles?” After a brief silence, a student in the last row responds, “I’d go to graduate school.” Few of today’s students have the option to retreat from the complexities of the world. They feel enormous pressure to complete their academic work and enter the workforce ready to support themselves and improve their lives.

Are students ready for college and career? What is readiness? And are we doing the right things to help students acquire the skills, habits, and behaviors that constitute readiness?

Pearson’s white paper, On Track: Redefining Readiness in Education and the Workplace, describes three promising and complementary approaches to promoting readiness intended to stimulate discussion and offer new directions for exploration. These three models, each based on extensive research with different populations and focused on somewhat different aspects of readiness, are alike in one important respect: all of the models emphasize careful assessment, actionable interventions, and access.

First, “The College-Readiness Index for Middle School Students,” calls for measuring both academic competencies like GPAs and test scores and “environmental factors” like family circumstances and school characteristics. It looks to develop a picture of an individual student’s preparedness for college at the end of middle school, when a student still has at least 3 years of secondary education to acquire the competencies and make the necessary adjustments required to succeed. A second model, “The Conley Readiness Index” (CRI), developed by Professor David T. Conley, Ph.D., looks beyond grades and test scores to evaluate students’ meta-cognitive abilities like Learning Skills and Career Transition Skills, delivering highly specific profiles of students’ academic strengths and weaknesses. These profiles are all “actionable,” offering students detailed, personalized roadmaps for building on existing strengths and fortifying areas of weaknesses. Last, based on extensive research with employers worldwide, Paul G. Stoltz’s, Ph.D. “GRIT Mindset” construct and assessment instrument enable students and potential employees to understand the strength of their innate persistence and tenacity in the face of adversity. The program also includes a range of exercises that can enhance these behaviors. Underlying research indicates GRIT predicts many factors conducive to career success.

  • These models redefine readiness, and they coalesce in three important ways:
    Assessment: each model details precise data points to be measured and describes how to interpret this data formatively.
  • Actionable: each research-supported construct leads to a program of intervention and support that will increase students’ chances for success.
  • Access: unlike some assessment instruments that are used to determine who gets into schools and who does not, each of these programs empowers students to take ownership of their learning, thereby giving every student the best opportunity to succeed in school and career.

Download the complete paper now! On Track: Redefining Readiness in Education and the Workplace. We welcome your contributions to this vital conversation

Also, join us on February 23, 2016 for a free webinar featuring David T. Conley, Ph.D., and Paul G. Stoltz, Ph.D. Register or find more information on our event webpage.


About the Author
Paul Smith

Paul Smith

Paul Smith has spent over 35 years in educational publishing, mainly in editorial roles acquiring and developing content across the college curriculum, including English composition and literature, political science, communication, health, teacher education, and student success.