05/01/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Educational Reform We Can Believe In

Education can be exciting. Very exciting.

Case in point -- there is a new program being offered to students in 8 states -- a new program that will help prepare them for college and beyond. Organized by the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE), the initiative will allow 10th graders to take a series of board examinations to test their mastery of basic educational requirements. If they pass, the students will have the opportunity to graduate early and attend a community college. If they fail, parents and teachers will be made aware of the basic challenges that still need to be overcome.

Either way, it's a win-win for the students and for the rest of us who care for them now, but will depend on them later.

This is the type of forward-looking approach that is desperately needed in states and communities throughout our nation. As it stands, too many children are not taught the basics. Too many students fail out of college. And too many graduates are left unprepared for real-world challenges.

As such, we need to change the way we do education, and the NSEE program seems like a big step in the right direction. Fast-tracking some students. Better preparing all students. Taken together, the NSEE program has the potential to be a real game-changer.

At NFTE, we share this laser-like focus on student preparation. Beginning in the middle schools, we work with teachers, school administrators and parents to prepare low-income students for life after school. We teach basics. We build skills. And we unlock their entrepreneurial creativity.

Interestingly, most of the states in which NCEE will be working are states in which NFTE already operates -- Connecticut, Kentucky, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island. These states, and others like them, are the laboratories of innovation that are producing the next generation of government officials, academics, doctors, and (of course) business leaders. They are, in other words, leading by example and helping to pave the way to a bright, prosperous future -- for our children and for us.

Again, I applaud the NCEE for stepping up in such a meaningful way, and I commend groups like the National Association of Manufacturers and the National Education Association for providing their support. By bringing innovation into the classroom, this program will be preparing students for life outside of the classroom. And that, my friends, is educational reform we can believe in.

Amy Rosen is President & CEO of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE).