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Obama Lays Out Plan for US Secondary Education

FILE - President Barack Obama speaking in Washington, Feb. 5, 2015.

U.S. President Barack Obama has laid out his plan to ensure that more children graduate from school fully prepared for college and a career.

In his weekly address Saturday, Obama said there have been signs in recent years that elementary and secondary school students are doing better. He said it was learned last week that the U.S. high school graduation rate hit an all-time high.

But he said students will only do better in a 21st century economy than their predecessors did if they are educated better than those who came before them.

The president said he wants to work with Congress this year to replace the No Child Left Behind law with one that addresses the overuse of standardized tests, makes a real investment in preschool and gives every student a fair shot in the economy.

Obama also criticized a Republican-led education bill in Congress, saying it would lock in cuts to schools for the rest of this decade. He said if the bill were in place, the United States would end up investing less in education in 2021 than it did in 2012.

Last week, Republicans on the House Education Committee pushed through a bill that would leave it to states to decide how to improve failing schools and would replace several federal programs with a flexible local grant program.