The School District of Janesville is committed to providing a solid foundation for all students to be successful in their chosen path after graduation. To ensure our graduates are college and career ready, all students will create an Academic & Career Plan (ACP).

Youth Apprenticeship Program for 2022-2023

2022-2023 Youth Apprenticeship Program enrollment has begun. If you are going to be a junior or senior please click here to find information about the Youth Apprenticeship Program.

The Four keys to college and career readiness

Based on extensive research, Dr. David T. Conley and his colleagues at the Educational Policy Improvement Center developed an operational definition of college and career readiness that goes beyond course titles, grades, and test scores1. This model, termed the Four Keys of College and Career Readiness, includes: Key Cognitive Strategies, Key Content Knowledge, Key Learning Skills and Techniques, and Key Transition Knowledge and Skills.

What is college-and-career readiness?

Career readiness is the process of preparing students of any age with the essential skills they need to find, acquire, maintain, and grow within a job, as defined by Applied Educational Skills.

Career readiness includes such important topics as

  • communication

  • critical thinking

  • emotional intelligence

  • financial literacy

  • time management

  • stress management

Preparing students for life after school also includes both in-class instruction and apprenticeships, internships, externships, and co-ops, which encourage students to put their newly acquired skills to practice and even pick up new real-world skills they can’t necessarily acquire from inside a classroom.

Career readiness education is critical in schools because it prepares students for life after college as they begin their careers, equipping them with the skills necessary to navigate the workforce. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, career readiness skills, or what they refer to as transferable or employability skills, “provide students with a competitive edge during interviews and internships for current and future careers” and “can differentiate a good employee from a great one.” These critical skills, not often made a priority in schools, give students the edge they need to land jobs.

“College readiness” refers to the level of preparedness for academic work beyond high school.

This definition broadly encompasses all post-secondary education or training, including career certificates and two-year associate’s degrees through community colleges, as well as bachelor’s degrees from colleges and universities.

College readiness goes far beyond simply being able to acquire subject matter knowledge. Learning skills and cognitive strategies are also important, according to University of Oregon professor David T. Conley, Ph.D., and author of College and Career Ready: Helping All Students Succeed beyond High School.

Conley says:

  • Key cognitive strategies include: problem solving strategies, conducting research, interpreting results, speaking and listening skills, writing in a variety of genres, mathematical reasoning, precision and accuracy.The ability to learn academic content / subject matter knowledge (whether in core school subjects like English, math, and science, or career-related information) requires cognitive skills. Therefore, Conley says that cognitive skills are equally important to subject matter knowledge.

  • Key learning skills and techniques include: time management, study skills, note taking, retaining information, strategic reading, collaborative learning, goal setting, self-awareness, persistence, and student ownership of learning. The ease with which knowledge is acquired increases with strong learning skills and techniques.

Conley also stresses the importance of post-secondary aspirations and career awareness.

Academic preparation should align with career goals

current career readiness standards

College- and career-ready standards are becoming more popular both at the national and state level. The U.S. Department of Education says that “students need to be prepared to compete in a world that demands more than just basic skills” – skills that students can use to think critically, solve problems, and be successful in the real world – and that starts with establishing nationwide academic standards and assessments that states can easily follow and implement. According to the Department of Education, many states have begun to develop their own standards in line with national standards in an effort to ensure college and career readiness in their students.

In 2009, the Common Core State Standards Initiative was established in an effort to outline standards for what students should know at the end of each grade and to ensure students are equipped with the skills necessary to succeed in college, work, and life, according to the official website. The standards were designed with college and career readiness in mind, emphasizing college and career expectations, higher-order thinking skills, and student success in the global economy and society.

What is the skills gap and how does career readiness address it?

The skills gap refers to “a fundamental mismatch between the skills that employers rely upon in their employees, and the skills that job seekers possess,” according to the Brookings Institution. This gap makes it difficult for both individuals to find jobs and employers to find skilled employees – employers are simply not interested in spending time and effort to teach employees the skills and knowledge that they should be bringing to the job themselves. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, there are stark contrasts between how employers perceive students entering the job market and how students perceive themselves entering the workforce. For example, “employers often rate the proficiency of recent college graduates lower than do the students themselves,” suggesting that employers see a major skills gap where college students don’t.

The skills gap widens when schools fail to prioritize teaching students career readiness skills before they graduate. By incorporating career readiness education into their curriculum, schools can help to close this gap because teaching real-world skills to students prepares them for landing jobs after school.

What should a career readiness curriculum cover?

Career readiness curriculum should cover various subjects and skills for the real world, including problem-solving, career exploration, career readiness assessment, and other soft skills. In addition to these higher-order thinking skills, career readiness should include STEM, focusing largely on critical math, science, and career concepts. Today, STEM skills are used in every industry, so all students benefit from learning STEM skills as a part of their career readiness education. That’s why it’s vital to incorporate both real-world and STEM skills into career readiness – that way students are prepared to enter the workforce and can avoid getting stuck in the skills gap.

Career and Technical Education (CTE)

To best prepare students for successful college and career experiences, CTE needs to:

  1. Be assessable to all students

  2. Be aligned with the needs of the workforce

  3. Be linked to real-life learning and career experiences

Why is college & career readiness important?

Why is college and career readiness important for all students?

  • By 2020, 65 percent of all jobs, and 92 percent of traditional STEM jobs, will require postsecondary education and training. College-and career-ready (CCR) graduates should be able to enter and succeed in entry-level postsecondary courses without the need for remediation and specifically should have:

    • Mastery of rigorous knowledge and skills in core academic disciplines, including English language arts (ELA)/literacy, mathematics, history, civics, science, art, and music.

    • The skills and dispositions necessary to be successful in charting their postsecondary path.

    • Successfully participated in postsecondary opportunities through advanced coursework (Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, dual enrollment) as well as career and technical education, work-based learning, and other opportunities for exploring interests, aptitudes, and goals so that graduates can successfully navigate pathways that connect education and employment after high school.

  • Four of every 10 new college students take remedial courses due to their inadequate preparation for the academic demands of higher education. “Students who have been adequately prepared for college and a career have multiple advantages. Additional remedial courses, often a surprise to students who have done well in high school, prolong the typical timeline to graduate and lead students to incur additional tuition and book costs,” comments Susan Thurman, Executive Director of the National Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS).

  • Of students that take one to two remedial classes in college, only 29% will go on to earn their college degree.

  • Moreover, 38% of students fail to graduate from bachelor’s degree programs within four years.

The images below were taken from the Empirical Foundations of College and Career Readiness:

In fact, less than 60% of students who aspire to college actually apply to college, and a quarter of them do not even go so far as to create a viable plan for postsecondary education.

A strong college-going culture is one where teachers generally have a positive perception of the school’s college-going climate and a high number of prior-year students have attended college and/or completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Participation in rigorous high school course work is associated with greater college enrollment.


Chris Maedke 608-743-5037