Getting Smart and Apex Learning Define Student Readiness

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Collaborative study highlights skills students need to ensure they are really ready for college, work and life

Getting Smart, a learning design firm that focuses on innovations in education and the future of learning, and Apex Learning, known for digital curriculum that makes rigorous, standards-based content accessible to all students, have collaborated on a study to define what it means for high school students to be really ready for what comes next. The project identified the most pertinent skills students need to be prepared for the next stage, whether it’s education or work.

According to the findings, students who are really ready for success beyond high school possess the following skills:

  • Critical thinking: Students apply tools and techniques to formulate and solve problems including data analysis, statistical reasoning, scientific inquiry, creative problem solving, nonlinear thinking and persistence.
  • Effective communication: Students clearly organize their data, findings, and thoughts in both written and oral communication, articulating their ideas through public performances and presentations, both online and in-person.
  • Self-direction: Students monitor and direct their own learning, creating processes to help them accomplish their goals and work.
  • Growth mindset: Students believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work and have positive attitudes and beliefs about themselves as learners, increasing academic perseverance.
  • Social and emotional skills: Students understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships and make responsible decisions.

“It is vital that we personalize the learning experience to support all students—from those who are on track to attend college to those students who may be struggling academically as well as students who are English language learners (ELL)—to achieve really ready skills that adequately prepare them for their next step,” said Tom Vander Ark, CEO and Partner, Getting Smart.

“Digital curriculum provides the vehicle for schools and districts to personalize the learning experience and support students in achieving essential skills like persistence, critical thinking and problem solving to confidently and successfully navigate the transitions and challenges within middle and high school and to prepare them for the future,” said Cheryl Vedoe, CEO, Apex Learning.

To view the full list of 28 essential skills students need to be Really Ready for college, work and life, visit: Join the #ReallyReady conversation today.

About Apex Learning
Schools and districts nationwide implement Apex Learning digital curriculum to personalize the learning experience and support success for all students—from those who are struggling to those capable of accelerating. Proven to increase outcomes, Apex Learning digital curriculum actively engages students in learning, with embedded supports and scaffolds to meet the needs of diverse learners. During the most recent school year, there have been over three million enrollments in Apex Learning Comprehensive Courses and Adaptive Tutorials. Headquartered in Seattle, Apex Learning is accredited by AdvancEd and its courses are approved for National Collegiate Athletic Association eligibility. For more information, visit or call 1.800.453.1454.

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Sarah Williamson
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