They're Trying to Right America's 'Rithmetic

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Sometimes, there’s more than one way to solve a math problem. And with Congress and the President seemingly unable to find a solution to America's poor performance in mathematics, some of the states believe they can. That’s the thinking behind Achieve Inc., a reform group that includes some of the nation’s top education, state and corporate leaders. The nonprofit organization, which grew out of the 1996 national summit on education, announced on Wednesday the launching of a $2 million project to develop lesson materials and a new eighth grade math test to boost the dismal math performance of U.S. students. Ten states have initially agreed to participate in the program.

There may be strong opposition at a local level to national education standards that are dictated by the federal government, says TIME writer-reporter Romesh Ratnesar, but this latest effort and the positive response from some of the states "shows that there does exist significant enthusiasm in the U.S. for some sort of national benchmark." The standards may just have to come from the state and local levels instead. Clearly, a growing number of parents, teachers and officials believe a way must be found to ensure that American students are measuring up to world levels. Year after year, America’s school children fail to perform well on international math and other tests. The latest proposal is an attempt to get things moving before the next national education summit in September.

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