College and Career Readiness Begins With a Well-Rounded Education: Opportunities Under the Every Student Succeeds Act

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) provides an opportunity for states to develop a coherent approach to ensuring that today’s students are prepared for tomorrow’s careers that meet state workforce demands and economic development initiatives. ESSA’s well-round education provision provides states with the flexibility to shape K–12 education to ensure all students have the opportunity to obtain successful careers.

This policy brief from the College and Career Readiness and Success (CCRS) Center at the American Institutes of Research describes how states can develop and implement their own definitions of a well-rounded education focused on improving college and career readiness aligned with workforce demand and economic development efforts. Specifically, state policymakers can work with the state education agency to develop an ESSA plan that incorporates:

  1. employment-focused content aligned with the needs of employers that prioritizes science, technology, engineering and math (STEM); Career Technical Education (CTE); and employability skills
  2. rigorous academic course-taking, and
  3. work-based learning experiences that include career awareness, exploration, preparation and training.