The current structure of state elementary and secondary education systems is fundamentally mismatched with the demands of the 21st Century. The system focuses on inputs, such as the time students spend in a seat in the class room and in contact with teachers or professors, instead of outputs and results. To achieve college and career-training readiness for all students, the P-16 education pipeline must shift to a competency-based education structure that prioritizes mastery of content.

To bring about deep system change and introduce competency-based education on a broad scale, states must address several policy pillars: the quality of teachers, faculty, and educational providers; the focus of assessment and accountability systems; and the way states fund education. Those three pillars are essential because they form the basis for the delivery of education and shape priorities at the classroom level. The challenge lies in addressing each of those policy categories substantively and coordinating activity so all work is moving in the same direction.

Governors are uniquely positioned to carry out that work. They are the only state leaders who oversee the entire pipeline from birth through postsecondary education and into the workforce. As such, it is critical that they lead the conversation about re-envisioning the educational delivery system and convene the necessary stakeholders. Aligning all the disparate parts will better position states to create a system that can truly serve and prepare students for the future.

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