Getting to grade 16

Too many states are faltering in their task of enabling young people to fully develop their talents through higher education.

A new "report card" on how states are preparing and supporting students for private and public higher ed shows a wide disparity of results (see story on page 1).

Illinois, Connecticut, New Jersey, Maryland, and Massachusetts rank highest overall, a result of their commitment to better high schools, making higher education affordable, or providing remedial help.

The report, "Measuring Up 2000," from the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, should make state legislators more accountable for improving their states' entire systems of education, from kindergarten through college.

Wealth and race factors have only a small role in how well each state's higher education system performs. Rather, the report suggests states must know for sure that the billions of dollars being invested actually produce a high quality of education. The nation still has little consensus on what students must achieve.

Too often, parents choose to live in a state because its schools are more affordable or offer better colleges and universities. That kind of disparity reveals a serious need to improve higher education generally and thus ensure Americans are becoming more literate and highly skilled in an increasingly competitive global economy.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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