K-12 Reforms: Strategic Initiatives to Foster Real Change
It is clear what it means to be prepared for tomorrow's economy. Already, three-quarters of the fastest-growing occupations require education beyond a high school diploma, with science, technology, and engineering careers prominent on the list. However, our schools aren't preparing enough of our students for that reality. Today, the United States has one of the highest high school dropout rates in the world. Among students who do complete high school and go on to college, nearly half require remedial courses, and nearly half never graduate. Yet in today's world, a college degree or advanced certificate increasingly represents the entry ticket to rewarding careers. In today's world, our graduates will compete against the smartest young people from across the globe. But in today's world, the United States ranks 12th in college attainment. As President Obama has said, "It is our generation's task ... to reignite the true engine of America's economic growth—a rising, thriving middle class." Reigniting that engine depends on education, preschool through 12th grade, strong enough to prepare all students for college, careers, and the innovation-based economy in which they will make their living.
The core reforms
To meet that challenge, the Obama administration set out in 2009—amid the greatest financial crisis in generations—to put in place a set of reforms to ensure that every child in this country receives the education he or she deserves. President Obama set two ambitious goals: that the United States would once again lead the world in college completion, and that every student would receive at least one year of college or specialized training after high school. [expand/collapse]
Building on this momentum, President Obama has proposed to deepen reforms through investments in strategic areas where states and school districts face key implementation challenges, and to continue substantial investments in critical formula programs that support state and local reform efforts. The President's plan includes the following elements: