Students: What’s Your Idea for Tackling a Tough Challenge in Education?

We’re working hard here at the U.S. Department of Education toward the President’s goal to once again be the best educated nation in the world.

But we know if we’re going to be successful – if all students are going to graduate from high school ready for college and careers and if we’re going to retake our place as first in the world in college completion – we need an all-hands-on-deck effort. And that includes students themselves.

I don’t just mean choosing rigorous courses and getting good grades – though of course that’s critical. I mean we need students to be education problem-solvers. While all the grownups – government officials, school leaders, parents, educators, and private-sector partners – are doing their best to improve education and increase student success, we need students to develop their own ideas for tackling tough challenges in education: increasing student engagement; reducing dropout rates; getting more students through STEM programs; and helping students make informed decisions about pursuing and paying for postsecondary education, to name just a few.

That’s why throughout this academic year we’ll be working with schools, non-profit and for-profit partners, and other stakeholders to engage students in innovation and business plan competitions with a focus on college and career readiness.

Our first effort this fall is in cooperation with the World Series of Innovation, a project of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE). As part of the World Series of Innovation, which was announced on September 8 and culminates with Global Entrepreneurship Week in November, NFTE and the U.S. Department of Education are inviting middle school and high school students to develop their own ideas – whether for-profit or non-profit – to promote college and career readiness. Winning students will be recognized and receive awards.

All teachers, counselors, and program leaders working with middle school and high school students are eligible to participate. Registration and a free toolkit are available now at

There will be more to come on this topic throughout the academic year. To stay connected, feel free to contact

This work builds on the Department’s commitment to engaging students in developing strategies for achieving President Obama’s 2020 college completion goal, which started with a National Youth Listening tour throughout 2010 and the first-ever “” National Youth Summit in February 2011. As Education Secretary Arne Duncan said at the National Youth Summit, “We have to get dramatically better, and we have to do it by working together.”

Phil Martin
Office of the Under Secretary
U.S. Department of Education