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Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee:
I am Susan Adler, Director of the Washington Office for the Education Commission of the States (ECS). In addressing the three questions which the Committee has asked, I would like to share with you the work of the ECS National Task Force on Education for Economic Growth chaired by Governor James B. Hunt of North Carolina and highlight for you recent National Assessment findings on student skills and achievement. I appreciate the opportunity to appear before you today. Let me begin by endorsing the title of the Pell-Stafford bill, which I understand has a number of cosponsors. "The Education for Economic Security Act" sets an appropriate framework for discussion of the importance of education's place in the design of economic strategies necessary to move us faster toward recovery and forward to sustained economic growth. To succeed, this agenda requires many partners. State and local political and education leaders, business, labor and the scientific communities, have, in many instances, and through many different approaches, begun to address both the short- and longrange issues. The federal government would be welcomed as an additional partner in these efforts.
Through the ECS Task Force, begun this past November, and scheduled to complete the first thrust of its work this July, we are defining the scope of the problem, defining what state and local political leaders can do to address the problem, and outlining appropriate roles for business and private industry. We are collecting data on state initiatives under way. We are learning what the problems and complications are for state, local, business and education leaders. Within the next two months, we will be drawing together a range of suggested options for consideration and adaptation by individuals in leadership positions. I would like to highlight for you our thinking at this time. This is more than a mathematics and science problem. The ECS Task Force has set as our first goal creating a national awareness of the kinds of skills, attitudes, and behaviors needed by our high school graduates to give them the necessary background preparation for meeting the demands and opportunities of a modern technological society. Our present work is concentrated on the student population in grades K-12. You may know that the National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP), a national census measuring how students perform in key learning areas over time, has been housed at the Education Commission of the States for the last 13 years. Mathematics and science are two of the areas in which student abilities are evaluated. What we have found over the last decade is that the vast majority of students have mastered the basics, i.e., low-level reading, writing and arithmetic skills. In addition, many of the NAEP findings indicate stability or progress through the seventies (especially the late seventies) in literal comprehension, writing mechanics and computational skills. The most dramatic improvements were largely among students in the lowest 25% of those assessed. Many believe that a direct connection can be made between the influx of federal dollars targeted toward disadvantaged students over these years and their improved performance in the "basic skills." The largest declines, however, occurred for students in the highest achievement class--the best students in each learning area evaluated. All our findings point to problems with what educators call higher-order skills and what business defines as learning-to-learn skills--the ability to reason, to problem-solve, to anaiyze, to infer and interpret. Why the decline? Many suggest that to a large exterii, these skills are neither taught nor practiced in our schools. Students,
instead, are taught specific, discrete skills, not general skills; concepts, not how to conceptualize. Problem-solving strategies have not been consistently built into our teaching methods and curriculum designs. I have attached to my testimony a recent paper prepared by our National Assessment staff that reviews these and other findings through raising the kinds of policy questions which members of this Committee may be asking. Governors, legislators and state and local education leaders comprise over half the members of the ECS Task Force on Education for Economic Growth. Given the fact that the "critical thinking“ skills so necessary for our future economic security are precisely those skills that the majority of our high school students are not mastering, our Task Force is concentrating on what strategies individuals in these leadership positions could be using to address this situation in their own states. We are addressing such questions as: What changes should we make in delivering educational services? How can we arrange for students to spend more time learning mathematics and science? Should we lengthen the school day or year? Should the states consider approaches to allow business people or scientists employed by industry or government to teach in classrooms ? Which states have already succeeded in making schools more effective? What are the problems, costs, and unknowns when local and state leaders embark on programs to improve or reform their schools? Who opposes change, and why? Which state leaders can make the most significant commitments if schools are to be improved? The remaining half of our Task Force consists of corporate executive officers from business, labor and industry. Frank Cary, immediate past chairman of the board of IBM, co-chairs our Task Force with Governor Pete du Pont of Delaware. We are working with these members to explore ways for leaders at the state and local levels to promote partnerships with business and industry, with the private partner sharing some part of the cost, human and material, of improving schools. In this regard, the Task Force is collecting information on the kinds of partnerships that are already working and has begun compiling answers to important questions that proponents of such partnerships must answer: What framework is required if business is to remain an active partner with schools over a sustained period of time? What guidelines, regulations, and laws inhibit or encourage public/private partnerships of this kind? What are business leaders already doing to improve education? Which companies are helping schools identify the mathematics and science skills needed for jobs (and future growth) in the new technologies? To what extent are business executives lending their skills to school people who want to improve management? Which companies are exchanging staff with schools, or releasing mathematicians and scientists for service in schools?' And with what pay-offs for both partners? We are finding that perhaps one of the most valuable outcomes of our meetings thus far has been to realize that processes for addressing these issues are already under way in many states. Whether the approach involves statewide task forces, advisory councils, or special planning committees, the leadership within the state seems to have set in motion a framework which is structured to draw together a comprehensive look at all the pieces and the players which are necessary if economic stability in the state is to be achieved and if education is to play a significant part in this effort. Let me cite two examples-Rhode Island and Connecticut.
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Senator Pell probably knows of Governor Garrahy's Strategic Development Commission, often known as the Murray Commission. In September of last year, 19 prominent leaders from Rhode Island business, labor, and education communities were appointed by the Governor and asked to develop a blueprint for Rhode Island's economic future. With J. Terrence Murray, chairman of the board and CEO of Fleet Financial Group as chairman of the Governor's Commission, work has focused on defining an accurate picture of Rhode Island's economic problems and helping to forge a consensus among business, labor, government and consumers on actions to be taken by each of these groups on major directions for the state's future growth. Each Commission member has contributed between 10 and 20 hours a week to this project. The Commission will present its report this April. This report will contain policy recommendations to further strengthen the relationship between the state's educational and economic communities. All policy recommendations are designed to result in a targeted economic development strategy for the state. It is expected that the Governor will use the Commission's recommendations in the design of his state legislative package on economic development. I understand that $8 million are already in place, with funding to begin July 1, 1983, to develop an enhanced computer literacy in every public school and institution of higher education in the state. Elementary and secondary schools will receive $3 million, vocational technical schools, $1 million, and institutions of higher education, $4 million. All companies involved in supplying computer equipment must also provide teacher training. In Connecticut, this process is being carried out through the Governor's High Technology Council. The Council, whose members were named on January 11 of this year, is bringing together in one comprehensive planning effort, leaders in business, labor, the academic community, and state government. Lieutenant Governor Joe Fauliso is Council Chairman. The Governor has asked the Council to define, in the broadest sense, the kind of education the state needs for the information age, and to address retraining efforts necessary which will utilize resources from such areas as education, labor, labor unions, and corporations for economic development. In the Fall of 1982, Governor O'Neil announced a $17 million high technology initiative as a first step toward addressing the longer-range economic strategies the state must face in the eighties and nineties. This initiative, which is now before the general assembly, includes:
• $4.5 million to purchase high technology equipment and instructional materials for the Regional Vocational Technical Schools and the comprehensive high schools;
• $250,000 for the State Department of Education's "Jobs for Connecticut Youth" program to help minority disadvantaged young people between the ages of 14 and 21, both in and out of school (the state funds will be matched by $255,000 in a private foundation grant);
• $700,000 to double the job training and retraining programs of the State Department of Labor, with the additional funds to be directed to retraining projects for workers displaced by high technology innovations;
• $7 million to be used as risk capital and seed money by the Connecticut Product Development Corporation (with a $1 million federal match);
• $3.5 million to be channeled through the State Board of Higher Education for an "Applied Projects Fund" and to upgrade existing programs and create new programs in high technology; and
• $100,000 for ten state scholarships for exceptional students who wish to pursue graduate education in Connecticut in high technology fields. While funding would be limited at this time, a process for involving all the state's services and planning mechanisms to address the needs for economic development, retraining, and education at the elementary, secondary, and postsecondary levels is now in place through the Governor's High Technology Council. New federal dollars, through such opportunities as the successful passage of the Education for Economic Security Act, would be welcome as an additional partner to these efforts. Federal funding that recognizes and takes advantage of the mechanisms and activities already under way in states like Rhode Island and Connecticut could be leveraged to the best advantages of all partners involved.
National Task Force on Education for Economic Growth
The Education Commission of the States (ECS), under the chairmanship of
Co-Chairmen The Honorable Pierre S. duPont IV, Governor of Delaware
Frank Cary, Chairman, IBM
Membership Thirty-five national leaders, including governors, legislators, heads of major
corporations, education officials and representatives from labor, media and the scientific community compose the task force. Other business, industry, labor, education and government leaders will provide a network of knowledgeable advisors to the task force.
The task force will be action oriented ... draw heavily on relevant data and resources that already exist ... focus primarily on strategies for improving the quality of high school graduates, especially those skills required for economic growth ... and give momentum to the growing interest and concern among governors and corporate leaders for the quality of our public schools.
Specifically, the goals of the task force are:
1. Create national understanding of the need for a well educated work force
and the changing work skills that are necessary for economic growth.
2. Promote policies, programs and actions to improve education which may
be used by national, state and local leaders in both the public and private sectors.
3. Establish partnerships among community, business, labor, government and
education leaders to improve education that will lead to economic growth.
Although the focus will be on education for economic growth, the task force will remain cognizant of other equally important purposes of public education, e.g., citizenship and personal growth.
The task force will officially meet in Washington, D.C., on February 26 and in