CEOs Warn Schools Not Challenging Students; Local Standards Don't Meet National Benchmarks

Article excerpt

Byline: Ben Wolfgang, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

A group of top business leaders warned in a new report Thursday that U.S. schools have set a standard for their students that's too low and that subpar expectations put the country in danger of falling even further behind other nations in reading and math proficiency.

The survey by Change the Equation, a coalition of educators and CEOs of companies that includes Time Warner, Xerox and ExxonMobil, found that while students in many schools meet the benchmarks set by their states, those thresholds fall far below national levels set by the U.S. Department of Education's National Assessment of Education Program (NAEP).

Craig R. Barrett, retired CEO of the Intel Corporation and chairman of Change the Equation, said he has heard policymakers sounding the alarm about the nation's schools since the Soviet Union launched the Sputnik satellite in 1957.

It's a frustration that in 53 years, not a damn thing has happened, he said.

Linda P. Rosen, Change the Equation CEO, said the report was intended to correct the record on science, technology, engineering and mathematics proficiency among the nation's youth.

Many states have set the bar on their state tests so low that the proficiency [level] has almost no meaning, she said in a briefing at the National Press Club.

Colorado, for example, reported that 70 percent of its fourth-graders and half of its eighth-graders are proficient in math. But when NAEP standards are applied, only 45 percent of fourth-graders and 40 percent of eighth-graders hit the mark, according to the report.

In Hawaii, 50 percent of fourth-graders hit the state's math threshold, but only 37 percent meet NAEP guidelines. In the District, 42 percent of eighth-graders satisfy local benchmarks while only 11 percent clear the bar set by the federal government. …