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The Challenge

Our nation’s ability to compete globally is dwindling. There is a great need to elevate student achievement and readiness for success in college and work, and to strengthen our national capacity in science, technology, engineering and math. The current U.S. education system includes: 
  • Alarming high school drop-out rates that disproportionately affect certain groups of students.
  • Low interest and proficiency in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields.
  • Confusing requirements that stifle college enrollment.
  • Low transfer rates signaling massive inefficiencies in the system.
  • A stagnant nationwide baccalaureate degree attainment rate that threatens our economic competitiveness.
 Our greatest challenge is ensuring that all students are adequately prepared for, have access to, and can persist through college graduation. American students continue to lag behind their international peers, the achievement gap remains wide, and the P-20 pipeline continues to “leak” students at every transition point. Click here to begin creating change.
Now, more than ever, it is crucial that business and education leaders—both P-12 and postsecondary— together capitalize on their strengths to address our nation's most pressing education challenges. Securing America’s competitiveness will require systemic education improvement at the elementary, secondary, and postsecondary levels. 
Fortunately, there are models for this type of work. Across the United States, communities are organizing to address their persistent educational challenges, with business and education leaders driving this work. In Louisville, KY, for instance, business leaders joined forces with a group of education, community leaders, and civic government officials led by the mayor to commit to improving education outcomes. An official pact—The Greater Louisville Education Commitment—was signed to add at least 40,000 more bachelor’s degrees and 15,000 more associate degrees.
Although the ways in which regional leaders address educational attainment differ, collectively this activity signals a shift in how we think about education improvement efforts. Real education improvement requires teams of corporate, university, and foundation leaders to develop strategic agendas to ensure that students are college and work ready. Public commitment to the long-term effort and a willingness to participate in networks of leaders once again will make our education system the envy of the world. Click here to begin creating change.

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