Education Secretary Miguel Cardona announced a new initiative on Tuesday to increase the global competitiveness of American students. 

Cardona stressed in a speech laying out his vision for the department this year that “Raise the Bar: Lead the World” needs bipartisan support and cooperation from states and districts, with three main pillars defining the measure. 

The first way to make students competitive is “academic excellence” by increasing a passion for reading, providing students with financial literacy and high standards in schools, according to Cardona.

“It’s unacceptable that in the most recent PISA test, an assessment which is done internationally, our students scored 36th place out of 79 countries in math,” the secretary said. 

The second part is addressing “learning conditions” by providing better mental health services to children and giving better opportunities and pay to teachers.

The last pillar touched on at length in the speech was making students ready for global engagement by ensuring pathways to careers and aiming to make more students multilingual. 

This goal will include investing in education for different career pathways for students whether that be through college or technical schools and investing more in multilingual education and language programs for students. 

“Recently at a ministerial meeting in France with 38 other countries, I was surprised that we were one of a few countries that was primarily monolingual,” he added. 

In his address, Cardona mentioned funds provided by the American Rescue Plan last year and the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act to help accomplish the goals of the department. 

“At the Department of Education, we will prioritize these focus areas and expand opportunities for technical assistance and use of federal funding. In the coming months, you will hear more details for each of these categories. Our actions at the Department must support our beliefs, and we intend to do that,” Cardona said.