Ed Trust’s new report, Meandering Toward Graduation: Transcript Outcomes of High School Graduates, shows that too many students leave high school with a diploma in hand but no clear path forward.

The report finds that 47 percent, or almost half, of American high school graduates complete neither a college- nor career-ready course of study — defined here as the standard 15-course sequence required for entry at many public colleges, along with three or more credits in a broad career field such as health science or business.

It also shows that only 8 percent of high school graduates in 2013 completed a full college- and career-prep curriculum. Less than one-third of graduates completed only a college-ready course of study, and just 13 percent finished a career-ready course sequence only.

This research comes as both educators and policymakers become increasingly aware of the need for a sharper focus on college and career readiness. But what does this phrase really mean, and how well are our schools doing in preparing all students for success after graduation? Meandering Toward Graduation delves into these questions by examining the high school transcripts of a nationally representative group of 2013 graduates.

The report encourages high school leaders to reflect on their school’s structure, culture, and instruction, and how those elements influence exposure to rigorous, engaging, and relevant coursework that prepares students for success after high school in various college and career paths.

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