NCEE (National Center on Education and the Economy)

The NCEE, or National Center on Education and the Economy is led by Marc Tucker. The NCEE in its many forms was instrumental in the implementation of Standards-based education reform, previously known as Outcomes-based education or Performance-based education. The paper "America's Choice: High Skills or Low Wages" outlined a model that a new educational performance standard should be set for all students, to be met by age sixteen. This standard should be established nationally and benchmarked to the highest in the world. Students passing a series of performance- based assessments that incorporate the standard would be awarded a Certificate of Initial Mastery. This certificate would qualify the student to choose among going to work, entering a college preparatory program, or studying for a Technical and Professional Certificate, which would be explicitly tied to advanced job requirements. These standards would not be intended as sorting mechanisms, but would allow multiple opportunities for success; the goal would simply be to ensure achievement of high performance standards for the great majority of the nation's workforce. The states would ensure that virtually all students achieve the Certificate of Initial Mastery. The NCEE is evidently the origin of the certificate.

At the peak of its influence, the NCEE would enter into contracts with districts and states educating over half of all public school students. By the mid 1990s however, most states would sever contracts with the New Standards Project, an arm of the NCEE, and establish their own standards and examinations such as WASL, AIMS, TAAS, and MCAS. Oregon would establish, and later abandon plans for not only a CIM, but a Certificate of Advanced Mastery. The No Child Left Behind Act would further require states to give a standards-based test to show progress in education improvement.

The NCEE New Standards project published ambitious examples of standards expected of projects in different grade levels. For example, a pair of fourth graders was expected to work with a professional carpenter to produce a design for a bike trailer complete with a 3-view and 3D drawing, and a parts list complete with cotter pins and a counter-sink drill bit. At the high school level, a student took an electric motor donated by the local power company, and with some help with welding from the shop teacher, engineered and constructed an electric car in his spare time outside of his academic classes.

Today, few states and education officials give full credit to Marc Tucker and the NCEE for first laying out the design the comprehensive education reform model followed by most US school systems in the 2000s.

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