This chapter examines the shift in political arguments about pathways between high school and college within state systems of education. It discusses three-level analytic method: First, reviewing the emergence of the college preparation rationale as an outgrowth of the standards movement, the reactions to the standards movement among K—12 policy researchers, and the emergence of standards-oriented research in the field of higher education. Second, examining trends in higher education policies and outcomes during the decades of high school reform; and third, reviewing the literature on high school preparation in relation to policies and trends. The post-World War II period, with its rapid expansion of educational opportunity, set the stage not only for the high school reform movement but also for the change from social progressivism to the neoliberal global period. The K—12 accountability movement has been widely criticized, in part because it does not solve underlying problems of inequality.