High schools in eight states have agreed to participate in a project aimed at using a system of "board examinations" to get high achieving students to do college-level work as early as 10th grade, the National Center for Education and the Economy announced Wednesday. Under the plan, which is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, high schools in Connecticut, Kentucky, Maine, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont will give volunteering students one of a series of exams (such as ACT’s QualityCore, the College Board’s Advanced Placement exam, or Pearson/Edexcel’s IGCSE and A-level programs) near the end of 10th grade, and those who pass will earn a high school diploma and the chance (if they choose) to enroll in any open admissions college in their state the following fall. Students can also opt to stay in high school and take courses designed to prepare them for admission to a selective college. Students who fail the exam will be prepped to help them pass it the next time they take it. “By introducing these Board Examination Systems in pilot high schools in these states as early as the 2011-2012 school year, we will begin a process that will ultimately prepare dramatically more students for college success and greatly reduce the high number of students who now take remedial courses in college,” said Marc Tucker, president of the national center.