New College Readiness Indicator System

As greater numbers of students strive for a college degree, districts are struggling with how to prepare them for the challenges ahead—to build the critical attitudes, aptitudes and skills necessary to succeed in college and beyond.

To address this problem, education researchers from Stanford Graduate School of Education, Brown University and the University of Chicago are releasing a “College Readiness Indicator Systems (CRIS) Resource Series.” The series is a suite of educational products designed to help school districts use data to identify students and the supports they need to graduate high school and have success in college.

Funded by a $3 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the CRIS initiative brought together the researchers with urban school systems in Dallas, New York City, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and San Jose. The aim of the initiative was to develop and study the implementation of a system of indicators and supports designed to deliver the knowledge and skills students need to be truly ready for college.

“A CRIS, at its most basic, is really a strategy for promoting educational equity. It is unusual in that it is not an early warning system, but a proactive approach that gets out ahead of the problem,” said Milbrey McLaughlin, the David Jacks Professor of Education & Public Policy, Emerita at Stanford and founding director of the John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities. “A CRIS ensures that meaningful opportunities are available for the long-term success of all students, particularly those who have been traditionally underrepresented in the post-secondary education system.”

The CRIS Resource Series is free and available for download by interested educators and administrators via any of the program’s partner websites:,,

A Robust Tool for Districts

“Education leaders are grappling with the fact that students are not college ready when they leave high school,” said Jenny Nagaoka, deputy director of the University of Chicago Consortium for Chicago School Research. “Although many districts are starting to use indicators, too often they are not linked to practices and policies in ways that would enable action to create meaningful, lasting change. There is a great need for actionable resources that help districts and schools understand the problem and develop strategies that meet their specific needs and context.”



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