This is Achieve’s ninth annual Closing the Achievement Gap report, which details states’ progress in adopting and implementing a coherent set of policies that will prepare all students from grades K-12 for college and careers. To examine how states are preparing students for college and careers, this report looks at the following four areas: alignment of academic content standards in English Language Arts/literacy and mathematics with the demands of college and careers; establishment of graduation requirements that expect all students to complete a college- and career-ready course of study; development of statewide assessment systems anchored to college- and career-ready expectations; and creation of comprehensive accountability and public reporting systems that promote college and career readiness for all students. As a supplement to this year’s report, specific graduation requirements and assessment data for all 50 states and the District of Columbia are released. Those files are downloadable in a box labeled “Additional Resources,” found here: www.achieve.org/ClosingtheExpectationsGap2014.
The contents of this report are generally valuable, providing detailed and useful information to policymakers, educators, and the public about accountability and assessment systems across all states that supplied information. The contents would have been substantially improved if the authors had taken a more objective approach. The report tends towards self-promotion as well as denigration of past accountability systems and efforts. For example, the report often suggests that its own research and work, beginning in 2005, has produced many improvements in accountability systems, without regard for many earlier efforts or the most critical of yardsticks: increased student achievement as measured by independent measures, such as NAEP. Communications quality is strong throughout, although the amount of detail may be a bit overwhelming. Utility should be high, based on the report's detailed content and the work behind it. On account of its overall quality, the publication could have a positive impact on learning.