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Group Proposes New Approach to High School Mastery

Time for a bracing change of pace for those of you interested in high school issues. The National Center on Education and the Economy is proposing a very different way of doing high school curriculum and assessment, and it's outlined in The New York Times.

The folks at NCEE have the idea that if students can pass a set of rigorous board examinations at the end of 10th grade, they should be able to move on to community college. If they aspire to a more selective institution, they can remain in high school and take college-prep classes. (This is an idea the center first advanced in a sweeping 2006 education reform proposal that Education Week reported on.)

Eight states have lined up to pilot this board-exam approach to high school, and they plan to apply for a chunk of the $350 million in federal funds available in the Race to the Top fund's assessment competition. (My colleague Stephen Sawchuk reported on the NCEE consortia, as well as others that are seeking those RTT funds.)

The NCEE argues that by pegging its exams to the level of skill required to succeed in entry-level, credit-bearing college courses, its proposal would reduce the need for college remediation, which now hobbles far too many students, especially in community college. The plan would also do away with the idea that "seat time" equals mastery.

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