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From preschool to high school, Obama seeking big progress in education

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His Tuesday speech also promised a new effort “to redesign America’s high schools so they better equip graduates for the demands of a high-tech economy" and a plan to develop a “college scorecard” to help young people gauge the costs and benefits of attending a particular college. 

The success of the president's lofty goals, however, will depend in large part on how successful he is at fleshing out his agenda and selling it to states and a politically divided Congress.

But some education experts say his proposals are at least a step in a positive direction – given the agreement that “human capital” is vital in an increasingly knowledge-based global economy.

“His goals are the right ones,” says Jack Jennings, founder of the Center on Education Policy, an independent advocacy group on education, which draws its funding from charitable foundations.  “We lack comprehensive school reform in the United States,” he says, adding that Obama’s objectives bring some crucial educational issues into the public spotlight.

Preschool, for instance, can be vital stepping stone that prepares children for success in elementary school. And rebooting high school curriculums could make a big difference in the nation’s economic and social life.

Currently, only 34 percent of American fourth-graders and 30 percent of eighth-graders are at least proficient in science, according to 2011 data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

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