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A Conversation with David Conley

By Dave Stuart Jr.

Post Image- David Conley InterviewWhile preparing the material inside of the Teaching with Articles course, I interviewed people I greatly respect and recorded the conversations. Previously, I've published my conversations with Kelly Gallagher and Larry Ferlazzo. Today, I'm sharing my conversation with the father of college and career readiness, Dr. David Conley himself.

Dr. Conley is president of EdImagine, which is dedicated to helping educational organizations improve their effectiveness and hone their strategic direction. He has been a professor at the University of Oregon for the past 26 years where he founded and directs the Center for Educational Policy Research. He is also the founder and former CEO of the Educational Policy Improvement Center, which he led for 12 years.

Dr. Conley is one of the thought leaders in the area of college and career readiness, a term he coined in the early 2000s. He has conducted many of the foundational research studies in this area and continues to write extensively on the topic. He has published multiple articles and policy briefs as well as three books in this area, including, most recently, Getting Ready for College, Careers, and the Common Core: What Every Educator Needs to Know.

He serves on numerous technical advisory groups and panels. He is currently a member of the Smarter Balanced Technical Advisory Committee. In 2010, he served as co-chair of the Validation Committee for the Common Core State Standards. He is a highly acclaimed national and international speaker who frequently delivers keynote addresses to a wide range of audiences.

Before entering higher education in 1989, Dr. Conley spent 20 years in the public school system in a variety of roles including teacher and co-director of two public alternative schools, a site and central-office administrator, and an executive in a state education agency. He received his PhD and MA from the University of Colorado, Boulder and his BA from the University of California, Berkeley.

Some highlights from the interview:

  • Dr. Conley's challenging moments as an educator (7:50): Flying concrete. “I don't want to do that again.”
  • All kids wants to learn (9:00): “When we dumb the work down for them, they take the message that we think they're dumb.”
  • Being college and career ready is more than having a set of knowledge (11:50): “Within five years, 80% of students graduated from high school have experienced some form of postsecondary education.”
  • “Teachers have to see their job description as I'm helping kids to get ready to succeed in college” (12:50).
  • “Grading is whatever the teacher says the grade is, and that may or may not be lined up with college readiness” (13:40).
  • Conley overviews the Four Keys (14:00 to 18:00).
  • “In the US we don't do quite enough to allow students to explore their aspirations and interests” (21:10). Class assignments are an opportunity for expanding this kind of work.
  • Campus visits, even to the local community college, are another simple strategy for improving college readiness for kids (22:30).

The interview

Please use the embedded player below to listen to the mp3 interview. If it’s not working, you can find the mp3 here — download it at your pleasure. Enjoy!


In the interview, Dr. Conley mentioned his recent article, “Teaching Success Skills to Conquer Content,” School Administrator, April 2016.

Here are Dr. Conley's books:

Thank you to Dr. David Conley for both his time in this interview and the afternoon I got to share with the Conleys during a visit to Portland last August. A brief overview of his Four Keys can be downloaded, for free, here.


2 Responses to A Conversation with David Conley

  1. Stan Masters May 9, 2016 at 5:43 pm #

    The link is going to an interview with Larry F. Is the link wrong, or did I click on the wrong link?

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