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Business Group's Reforms Need Long-Term Backing, Report Says

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Although many states have adopted education reforms advocated by a major national business group, business leaders still have much work to do in the education-policy arena, a new report concludes.

The report by the Business Roundtable, which represents the chief executive officers of more than 200 of the nation's largest corporations, describes how states are adopting policies that fit its vision of systemic school reform.

The group said the report, "The Essential Components of a Successful Education System: Putting Policy Into Practice,'' is not intended to be an overall progress report on systemic reform. Instead, it gives examples of reforms adopted by states that relate to the B.R.T.'s "nine components'' of a successful education system.

The B.R.T. made a 10-year commitment in 1989 to work for systemic changes at the state level. The organization's vision is embodied in the nine principles: higher expectations for students; performance-based education; better assessment strategies; rewards for successful schools and penalties for failing ones; school-based management; better staff development; high-quality pre-kindergarten programs; better health and social services in schools; and greater use of technology.

"What this report does is give people some concrete examples of what the language of the nine components means,'' said Christopher T. Cross, the executive director of the B.R.T.'s education initiative.

Kentucky Comes Closest

For example, the report cites four states that have made significant progress in developing performance-based education--Maine, Minnesota, Oregon, and Pennsylvania.

Three states--Ohio, Oregon, and Washington--recently enacted programs that increase pre-kindergarten opportunities for children, the report notes. For example, Oregon's 1991 education-reform law requires that funding be available by 1996 to serve half of all children eligible for Head Start.

The B.R.T. says that Kentucky, with its comprehensive school-reform experiment, has come closer than any other state to realizing the nine-point vision. The three-year-old effort in that state continues to have the backing of the business-influenced Partnership for Kentucky School Reform, the report notes.

The Kentucky reform law, which created a new education system from "whole cloth,'' has set the state "well on the path to creating an education system based on all nine essential components,'' the report says.

The report includes contact lists and other resources about each program or state cited.

Single copies are available for free from the Business Roundtable, 1615 L St., N.W., Suite 1350, Washington, D.C. 20036; (202) 872-1260.

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