Diploma Matters coverDiploma Matters:  A Field Guide for College and Career Readiness (Jossey-Bass) is written for practitioners who believe fully that the K-12 experience should prepare all students equally well for the full array of opportunities that await them after high school.  Whatever they choose, high school graduates should be equipped with the knowledge and skills that will make them successful in both college and careers.

This field guide is intended to help state leaders, district superintendents, principals, and other site and district leaders gain a deep understanding of what it takes to ensure that students from all backgrounds have access to a rigorous course of study that leads to college and career readiness. It can also be a useful resource in the higher education arena as part of teacher preparation and administrator leadership programs. Readers will find a “toolkit” developed by The Education Trust-West.  The tools in the kit help school leaders and teachers examine the current high school experience (Educational Opportunity Audit), and then develop a detailed action plan (Blueprint) to transform curriculum so that their students are ready for college and work.


“After spending more than four decades in the educational field, I have read a multitude of books on transforming schools into places that work for all of the kids.  Many of those books have been good or excellent but none has had the power and punch of Diploma Matters by Dr. Linda Murray.  This is a book for practitioners who have seen it all.  Linda is able to capture in a straightforward way the nuts and bolts of how to do the work.  Linda, who was an extraordinary superintendent, proves to be a captivating storyteller.”

Peter J. Negroni, Senior Vice President at the College Board


“The San Jose, California, experience in raising academic expectations for all students at the high school level is a model for others to consider.  Under Linda Murray’s leadership, San Jose Unified instituted significant reforms in graduation requirements resulting in improved college readiness.  This is a story worth reading including the specific implications for districts nationwide.”

Michael W. Kirst, Emeritus Professor of Education and Business Administration, Stanford University, President, California State Board of Education, and author of Political Dynamics Of American Education




Accompanying resources for Diploma Matters, include:

  • The Study of Student Transcripts
  • Master Schedule Analysis
  • Surveys – Overview
  • Focus Groups
  • Community Conversations
  • Blueprint for Action


Linda_author 005Linda Murray is Superintendent-in-Residence at The Education Trust-West and is responsible for leading the practice work of the organization in California.  The work is around high school reform to ensure that all California graduates are college and work ready. Prior to joining ETW, Dr. Murray served as Superintendent of Schools for the San Jose Unified School District for eleven years.  In 1998, the district raised its graduation requirements to meet the UC/CSU entrance requirements, and since then the district has demonstrated major successes for poor students and students of color. 

College and Career