NGA Contact: Christopher Cashman, 202-624-7787

CCSSO Contact: Kara Schlosser, 202-336-7034

Achieve Contact: Sandy Boyd, 202-419-1540

NGA, CCSSO and Achieve Join Together to Promote International Benchmarking of U.S. Education Performance

WASHINGTON—Three of the nation's leading education policy organizations today united to ensure American students in every state are receiving a world-class education. The National Governors Association (NGA), Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and Achieve, Inc. have joined to provide states a roadmap for benchmarking their K-12 education systems to those of top-performing nations.

The organizations' work will be guided by an International Benchmarking Advisory Group consisting of education experts representing education institutions, the business community, researchers, former federal officials and current state and local officials (a complete list appears below). The Advisory Group's expertise and experience will help the partner organizations identify the need for international comparisons as well as provide guidance for benchmarking state education system practices in areas such as standards, accountability, educator workforce and assessments. The Advisory Group is co-chaired by Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue and Craig Barrett, chair of the board at Intel Corporation.

"The most recent results of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) show U.S. students finished 21st in science skills and 25th in mathematics skills," said Gov. Napolitano. "In a globally competitive world, the U.S. must do better. We need students capable of competing for high-paying jobs with students from top-performing countries."

"As governors, we must have consistent, comparable data in order to make informed decisions about our state's education system," said Gov. Perdue. "Benchmarking will help us identify the qualities and characteristics that make up the education systems that best prepare students for success. Understanding these policies give us the option of incorporating the best of them into our own educational structure."

"The United States needs workers whose knowledge, skills and talents are competitive with the best in the world. This international benchmarking effort will ensure that we are moving in that direction," said Barrett. "All our students need the critical thinking and problem-solving skills to handle the complex challenges of the 21st century if the U.S. is going to maintain its competitive edge."

The partner organizations and Advisory Group members agree that the stakes are too great to ignore these global trends and allow our students' education performance to be surpassed. In November, members of the Advisory Group and the partner organizations will release a report about this critical issue and offer steps to take that will ensure state education systems exceed the best in the world.

International Benchmarking Advisory Group

Governor Janet Napolitano, Arizona, co-chair
Governor Sonny Perdue, Georgia co-chair
Craig Barrett, Chair of the Board, Intel, co-chair

Steven A. Ballmer, Chief Executive Officer, Microsoft Corporation
Don Carcieri, Governor, Rhode Island
Mitchell Chester, Commissioner of Education, Massachusetts Department of Education
Christopher Edley, Jr., Dean and Professor of Law, University of California-Berkeley
Chester E. Finn, Jr., President, Thomas B. Fordham Institute
Beverly L. Hall, Superintendent, Atlanta Public Schools
Kati Haycock, Director, Education Trust
James B. Hunt, Jr., Chairman, Hunt Institute for Educational Leadership and Policy
Dwight Jones, Commissioner of Education, Colorado Department of Education
Tim Kaine, Governor, Virginia
Janet Murguía, President and Chief Executive Officer, National Council of La Raza
Thomas Payzant, Professor of Practice, Harvard Graduate School of Education
Charles B. Reed, Chancellor, California State University
Richard W. Riley, Former U.S. Secretary of Education
Andreas Schleicher, Head of the Indicators and Analysis Division, Directorate for Education, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development
William H. Schmidt, University Distinguished Professor, Michigan State University
Vivien Stewart, Vice President for Education, Asia Society
Phillip Uri Treisman, Executive Director, The Charles A. Dana Center, the University of Texas at Austin
Bob Wise, President, Alliance for Excellent Education

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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 www.nga.org.

The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) is a nonpartisan, nationwide, nonprofit organization of public officials who head departments of elementary and secondary education in the states, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense Education Activity, and five U.S. extra-state jurisdictions. CCSSO provides leadership, advocacy, and technical assistance on major educational issues. The Council seeks member consensus on major educational issues and expresses their views to civic and professional organizations, federal agencies, Congress, and the public.

Created by the nation's governors and business leaders, Achieve, is a bipartisan, non-profit organization that helps states raise academic standards, improve assessments and strengthen accountability to prepare all young people for postsecondary success. At the 2005 National Education Summit, Achieve launched the American Diploma Project (ADP) Network, a coalition that has grown to 33 states, educating nearly 80% of public school students in the United States. The ADP Network is committed to aligning high school expectations with the demands of college, career and life. To learn more about Achieve, visit www.achieve.org.