Contact: Christopher Cashman, NGA, 202-624-5301
Contact: April White, Hunt Institute, 919-425-4167

Nation's Governors Gather in North Carolina for Governors Education Symposium

WASHINGTON—American education must do a better job preparing students for the global demands of the 21st century economy, the nation's governors concluded at the annual Governors Education Symposium, a joint initiative by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the James B. Hunt, Jr. Institute for Educational Leadership and Policy.

The Governors Education Symposium brings the nation's governors together to engage in candid dialogue about improving education in the United States. Throughout the three-day symposium, governors explored strategies and policies from around the country and globe for developing a world-class education system for all American students.

"The educational performance of our students today will determine our national economic competitiveness in the future," said NGA Chair Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty. "Governors all across the country are working to ensure their students are internationally competitive with those from top-performing countries."

"How U.S. student achievement compares internationally is alarming," said former North Carolina Gov. Jim Hunt of the Hunt Institute. "If we are going to change our international standing and improve the quality of education, it has to start with high, rigorous standards."

The frank and robust dialogue not only provided governors an opportunity to share successes and challenges in their states, but also reiterated several important facts and revealed the breadth of challenges in making American public education globally competitive, including:

Effectively Measuring U.S. Student Performance

  • High, rigorous standards are the foundation of a strong education system. Content standards specify the knowledge and skills that students need at each grade level. These standards must be supported by an aligned and clearly articulated system of curriculum, assessments, teacher preparation and professional development, textbook selection and appropriate supports for students.
  • U.S. participation in international assessments provides valuable information about student performance for policymakers and educators to better identify policy solutions to U.S. education system shortcomings. The United States is the only country among the participating Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) members in which state entities do not participate in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), and only a few have states have participated in state-level administration of the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS).
  • The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is the only assessment that shows what American students in each state know and can do. Often referred to as the nation's report card, NAEP reading and mathematics assessments are now required in every state. These test results are the only common measure across states that show how our students are doing academically.

Improving the Quality of the Teacher Workforce

  • Research suggests that quality teaching is the single most important school-based factor in determining student achievement.
  • School systems from top-performing nations share three common characteristics: improving the quality of the teaching force; providing supports to teachers; and building structures to ensure that schools deliver high-quality instruction to every child.
  • With nearly half of all new teachers in the United States leaving within the first five years on the job, teacher retention is a critical component of solving teacher shortage problems. Working conditions play a large part in teachers' decisions to remain in a school.
  • Increasing College Graduation Rates and Workforce Capacity
  • Amid the shifting demands of the global knowledge economy, it is critical that today's workforce have higher levels of postsecondary education or training than ever before.
  • Our nation has seen a dramatic increase in the marketplace demand for workers with postsecondary education. The demand for workers with postsecondary education has increased from 28 percent in 1973 to 59 percent today.
  • A total of 19 OECD countries have higher graduation rates than the United States, with 54 percent. Japan, with 91 percent, and Ireland and Korea, each with 83 percent, are the world leaders.
  • Redesigning Education Finance Systems for Greater Efficiency and Effectiveness
  • State education funding comprises nearly 50 percent of total state government expenditures, but rising costs and competition with other sectors have significantly tightened public education funding.
  • State financing systems should be modified to ensure that student learning drives education finance decisions.

For more information about the Hunt Institute and the Governors Education Symposium, please visit For more information about the NGA Center for Best Practices, please visit


Founded in 1908, the National Governors Association (NGA) is the collective voice of the nation's governors and one of Washington, D.C.'s most respected public policy organizations. Its members are the governors of the 50 states, three territories and two commonwealths. NGA provides governors and their senior staff members with services that range from representing states on Capitol Hill and before the Administration on key federal issues to developing and implementing innovative solutions to public policy challenges through the NGA Center for Best Practices. For more information, visit

Founded by former Governor James B. Hunt, Jr. in 2001, the James B. Hunt, Jr. Institute for Educational Leadership and Policy works with leaders to secure America's future through quality education. Working at the intersection of policy and politics, the Hunt Institute connects leaders with best strategies for developing and implementing policies and programs to improve public education. To that end, the Institute convenes governors, policymakers, legislators, and business and civic leaders from across the nation, and collaborates with individual states to develop and implement state-specific education plans. The Hunt Institute is a non-partisan, non-profit service entity that does not lobby for, or take position on, state and federal legislation. For more information, visit