A Personalized and Integrated Approach to College, Career and Life Readiness

Authored by Tom Vander Ark and Mary Ryerse

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We’ve released the first of two publications that are focused on improving students’ college, career and life readiness, with an emphasis on students who have been underrepresented in higher education. Both publications frame the larger context of readiness through a programmatic case study that analyzes the effectiveness of College Spark Washington’s (CSW) eight-year College Readiness Initiative (CRI).

In An Integrated Approach to College, Career & Life Readiness, authors Tom Vander Ark and Mary Ryerse illuminate the need for readiness, narrate the story of the high-impact Career Guidance Washington program and illustrate how partnerships can enhance college, career and life readiness initiatives. The message is multifold: Students need support. Case studies are helpful. Partnerships can work.

In the publication, the authors examine the current state of college readiness, offer a case study analysis of College Spark’s CRI via an impact assessment of the Career Guidance Washington (CGW) program, identify lessons learned from the CRI and provide recommendations for ways in which leaders across sectors can collaborate to create a more equitable future for students.

The authors sought to answer the following questions:

  • What is currently known about readiness?
  • Did the initiative achieve its goal to help more low-income students be college-ready when they graduate from high school?
  • What lessons have been learned to help promote equity and increase access to college and career prep, with longevity and at scale?

The Study

This publication is the result of a multi-year study of College Spark Washington’s College Readiness Initiative. The Getting Smart team built upon the external evaluation conducted by The BERC Group throughout the course of the initiative.

Through the Impact Study, Getting Smart extracted key information from BERC reports and also conducted interviews, administered surveys and analyzed the implementation, impact and sustainability of the CRI program. Year one focused on grantees, while also gathering input from policy makers and partners. Year two involved additional constituents and built toward these national reports on the impact of the College Readiness Initiative.

Download the Full Paper

The Publications

This publication is the first in a two-part part series produced in partnership with College Spark Washington (@CollegeSparkWA). Join the conversation on Twitter using #CollegeReady or #RedefiningReady. To learn more about Integrating Readiness:


College, Career & Life Readiness

Academic and Social Supports

White Paper An Integrated Approach to College, Career & Life Readiness: A Case Study on Personalizing Guidance An Integrated Approach to Academic and Social Supports: A Case Study on Increasing College Readiness through AVID
Infographic Every Student Deserves a Champion Academic and Social Supports Matter: Preparing Students for College, Career and Life Readiness
Featured Program

CGW (@waOSPI) personalizes guidance and provides a student-centered approach to college, career and life readiness by helping students understand who they are, where they’re headed and how they’ll get there.

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The AVID (@AVID4College) program provides strong academic and social supports that prepare students for college and create a school-wide culture of college readiness.


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