A limited definition of readiness undermines every student’s opportunity for success, but especially the most vulnerable or underserved in schools. A more comprehensive definition isn’t just inclusive of all students, it gives a common language and actionable model to align support services, efforts, staffing, culture, and classrooms schoolwide.

Based on over a decade of research and his 20 years of experience in the public education system, Dr. David Conley developed the Four Keys so that students, families, and educators can identify and prioritize what skills are needed to be successful after high school.

Readiness for all students

In its simplest form, we refer to the Four Keys as Think, Know, Act, and Go. In other words, students ready to be lifelong learners have the ability to THINK deeply about what they are doing; KNOW contextually why they learn; ACT purposefully to achieve their goals; and GO successfully through life’s transitions.

Think Know Act Go
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We offer a way of thinking and framework based on The Four Keys of College and Career Readiness™ that helps educators be more strategic and impactful across the board with their efforts, resources, initiatives, planning, and classroom instruction. The unique lens of the Four Keys framework helps make sense of complexity and helps identify opportunity for real and actionable improvement in systems, schools, and classrooms. Our strategic work with educators creates focus amid clutter, and empowers school communities to strengthen and sustain a culture that can support every student’s readiness and educational success.

Building off of Dr. Conley’s model, we use a series of questions that successful learners should continually ask themselves. Using these questions, we can begin to support students as they navigate pathways that are more and more complex in education, careers, and their personal lives. Utilizing the Four Keys in this way is not a linear process, but instead should be thought of as a set of skills and strategies to better understand how we learn as well as a framework for approaching new concepts and situations as we interact with the world around us.

4 Keys Questions

We Use the Four Keys in Two Primary Ways

  • As a research-based actionable definition of the skills and knowledge a 21st century student needs to be a lifelong learner and succeed beyond high school. The model provides a common language that districts, schools, teachers, students, and families can use to organize student learning.
  • As a framework that schools and districts can use to develop environments in which ALL students are prepared to succeed beyond high school. Using the Four Keys as a lens allows school and district leaders to examine existing efforts, resources, initiatives, and programs in terms of how balanced their approach is to supporting and preparing all students.