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Competitiveness Strategy Urges Education Role

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WASHINGTON--A federal advisory panel examining the nation's economic competitiveness has endorsed national education standards and has urged that colleges toughen their admissions requirements.

The report by the Competitiveness Policy Council, a 12-member advisory group appointed by the President and Congressional leaders, made the recommendations as part of a comprehensive competitiveness strategy.

"The bottom line is simple: If we want a higher standard of living, we will have to earn it by improving the education and training of our workforce,'' states the report, "A Competitiveness Strategy for America.''

Consistent with a host of recent reports that tie increased U.S. competitiveness in the world economy to improvements in education, the C.P.C. report says the nation must change its expectations from "minimum competency to high achievement both for college-bound and work-bound students.''

Congress, the states, and school districts should adopt the national education goals, the report states, and districts should communicate to parents and the public the importance of raising expectations from minimum competency to high performance.

The panel endorses efforts to develop content and performance standards for what students should know and be able to do in various subjects, as well as assessments that move away from multiple-choice tests.

It also calls for more external assessments that would play a role in students' qualifying for college and for better jobs, and it says the federal government and the states should condition aid to higher education on evidence that colleges and universities are raising admission standards.

The report says hundreds of "colleges are far more concerned with maintaining enrollment than maintaining academic standards, and have no rigorous entry requirements.''

The report suggests the development of a new uniform high school transcript that would provide more information to employers about each graduate's grades, conduct, and teacher recommendations.

The C.P.C. is made up of leaders from business, labor, government and other organizations. Albert Shanker, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, is a council member and chairs its education panel.

Information on the report is available from the C.P.C., 11 Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C. 20036-1207; (202) 387-9017.

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