Updated at 3 p.m. on 10/31
Washington — Education officials from Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Utah announced here today that they were moving, in principle, to adopt a sweeping set of education reforms laid out two years ago by the National Center on Education and the Economy.
In 2006 the private, nonpartisan center recommended overhauling state education practices, including preparing a large percentage of students to enter community college after 10th grade and raising teacher pay in order to recruit more of them from the top third of their graduating class instead of the bottom third.
The country’s education system needs a radical makeover because too many students are ill prepared to function in the modern global marketplace, which rewards creativity and technological competence over the more basic skills required in the past, says the center’s report, “Tough Choices or Tough Times.”
While education officials from all three states agree with the broad goals of the center’s plan, they have so far made limited commitments to enacting specific recommendations of the center’s blueprint.
New Hampshire is preparing a statewide examination to identify 10th graders qualified to take college courses. Massachusetts’ “Readiness Project,” a 10-year plan to improve public education announced last year by Gov. Deval Patrick, a Democrat, includes measures that are based on the “Tough Choices” agenda, including ways to improve teacher recruitment and training.
A separate coalition of states will be joining New Hampshire in taking a similar action, said Marc S. Tucker, co-chairman of the group that wrote the “Tough Times” report.
But the representative from Utah said his state had not made any specific policy decisions on how to meet the “Tough Choices” goals, although he stressed that he had support from a wide contingent of elected officials and even teachers unions.
“We’re largely in the problem-finding stage, not the problem-solving stage,” said Gayle McKeachnie, an adviser to Gov. Jon Huntsman of Utah, a Republican.
And neither the center nor the states have identified specific plans to help colleges deal with the proposed influx of high-school students.
Mr. Tucker, however, said the center’s plans would transform higher education by producing better-prepared students who needed no remediation when they enrolled in college and who were more likely to complete their degrees. —Eric Kelderman