This study addresses missing links in “college for all” debates by investigating gaps between actual and desirable math achievement trajectories for students’ college readiness. Linking multiple national data sets across P–16 education levels, the study estimates college readiness benchmarks separately for two-year and four-year college entrance and completion. The goals of the study are to compare performance standards, benchmarks, and norms for college readiness and to assess college readiness gaps among all students as well as gaps among racial and social subgroups.
The results suggest that entrance into and completion of two-year versus four-year colleges require substantially different levels of math achievement in earlier education periods and that meeting national versus state proficiency standards leads to differences in postsecondary education outcomes and can mean the difference between bachelor’s and associate’s degree attainment. Persistent racial and social gaps in college readiness threaten the goal of getting all students academically ready for at least two-year college completion.