The Problem We Are Working to Address

For the past decade, the quality and relevance of American public education have come under the microscope, and the resulting improvements of that examination have largely been positive: higher academic expectations, expanded access to community and four-year college, and greater emphasis on career readiness.

While there have been measurable successes, the United States continues to fall short of national education and employment goals.

Too many students – especially low-income, first-generation, and students of color – persistently stumble at the key transition point where they move from high school to college or other postsecondary training. And often they stumble again from those programs into the workforce.

This is discouraging for students. It’s inefficient for our education system. It’s costly to our economy and society. And it’s a problem we can solve.

Meeting workforce needs and closing postsecondary attainment gaps requires partnership between K-12 and higher education leaders. Just as when a runner passes a baton in a relay race, the most successful transitions occur when both sides are working together to maintain momentum. If we are to help millions more students find success, K-12 and higher education must facilitate a more seamless handoff—we all share responsibility for accelerating students to the finish line.

Our Vision for Solving the Problem

Level Up has formed to help our education systems keep the promises they make to students. A high school diploma should mean a student is prepared for college. A postsecondary certificate or degree should lead to a matching job. The time and money students invest in their education should pay off at every point. And taxpayers, too, should see the benefits when more students are advancing productively through publicly funded schools, colleges and universities, and transitioning into work.

We owe it to all students to not add unnecessary burdens, frustrations and inefficiencies as they pursue something our society very much needs them to do: complete high school, earn a high-quality postsecondary credential or degree, and enter the workforce with the skills to contribute.

The prosperity of states and communities, and indeed our country, depends on significantly increasing the number of students—especially students of color, those from low-income families, and whose parents did not attend college—persisting through this journey. Level Up is bringing together the leaders and policymakers who can make this vision a reality, and is supporting them to focus on improving this sequence: