Since July 2000 when he became superintendent of the nation’s second-largest and perhaps the most-decentralized, lowest-performing school system, Roy Romer has improved instruction in Los Angeles’ elementary schools, where test scores in reading and math have climbed above the national average, results not seen there in decades. When he served as Colorado’s governor from 1986 to 1998, Romer was the driving force behind many initiatives and laws that improved education for the state’s children, as well as its adults, including: the “First Impressions” initiative that improved and made more accessible high-quality early childhood care and education; the Colorado Preschool Program that helps at-risk preschoolers prepare for school; the Colorado Child Care Resource and Referral System that helps families find quality child care; the Governor’s Task Force on Early Childhood Professional Standards that defined what every child care provider needs to know and be able to do to be considered highly qualified; a law that made Colorado one of the first states to establish standards and a statewide assessment that measured them; authorization for school choice and charter schools; and the Internet-based Western Governors University (WGU), which offers competency-based courses from dozens of the nation’s colleges, universities and corporations. (He worked with Utah Governor Mike Leavitt to establish WGU.) Additionally, while governor, Romer served as chairman of both the Education Commission of the States and the National Education Goals Panel. He was co-chairman of the National Council on Education Standards and Testing, and director of the National Assessment Governing Board and of Achieve.
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