PLATFORM : Go National

We need a national examination system, a performance-driven program that starts early and continues. You could give the exam as each student reaches fourth, eighth and 12th grade. It's the kind of concept that the Germans, British, French, Swedes and--to an extent--the Japanese use.

A certificate of initial mastery would be given those who complete the testing. This certificate would be benchmarked to international standards. It's important because we rank almost last among industrialized nations on math and science exams.

(The alliance) just did a poll of 1,200 employers, and two-thirds say they are very dissatisfied with the competencies of entry-level workers. Employers said they have to provide remedial courses or organize the work in a fashion to help workers do the (job).

We still have a highly productive economy. But when you see signs of lack of competitiveness, we should react.

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