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8 US States to Test High School Changes

Some "college ready" students may finish early using board exam systems.

This is the VOA Special English Education Report.

The Obama administration says American schools should produce students who are "college and career ready." What is the best way to do that? One group that has some ideas is the National Center on Education and the Economy. Marc Tucker is president of this nonprofit organization.

MARC TUCKER: "The president has called for focusing in on what it really takes to be successful in work and in college, and he has called on America's educational institutions, primary and secondary educational institutions, to do whatever it takes to get our kids college ready. That is precisely what we are doing."

The National Center on Education and the Economy will be working with eight states on a project to test board examination systems. Students who volunteer will take board examination classes similar to those found in other parts of the world. Once they pass the exams, they can leave high school as early as the end of the second year.

Marc Tucker says the aim is to make sure students finish high school with enough skills to succeed in at least a two-year college.

MARC TUCKER:"In the United States, one is expected to go to high school for four years and you get a diploma just for showing up or attending. It doesn't particularly attest to any level of accomplishment. What we're trying to do here is to change the system in the United States from one that is based on the time that is spent in the seat to one that is based on your actual accomplishments."

The state projects will start as early as September of two thousand eleven. They will involve ten to twenty high schools in each of the eight states. The states include Connecticut, Kentucky, Maine and New Hampshire. The others are New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont.

Some educators and parents do not like the idea of sending students as young as sixteen off to college, before they may be socially ready.

But Marc Tucker says students who pass the exams could stay in high school and take a demanding set of exams at the upper division level. That program is designed to prepare students for entrance into a competitive college or university.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has provided more than one million dollars to start the program. Marc Tucker says he expects interest in the idea to grow.

MARC TUCKER:"Our hope is that this will become the way school is in the United States, it will become the dominant way of going to high school."

And that's the VOA Special English Education Report, written by Nancy Steinbach. Does your country use a board examination system? Tell us about it -- post your comments at our newly redesigned Web site, I'm Steve Ember.