North Carolina should scrap its current high school curriculum and replace it with two separate tracks for students going to college and those entering a technical career, task force recommended Thursday.

The recommendations also include mandatory school attendance until age 18 and withholding drivers licenses from students who are not making academic progress.The report by the Commission on Work-force Preparedness is the last of three that the General Assembly will receive from state officials. The Department of Public Instruction and the state Board of Education also have prepared reports.

Bobby R. Etheridge, state superintendent of public instruction, submitted a $672 million plan in September. Among other things, he suggested extending the school year by 20 days, toughening high school graduation requirements and creating a program for disadvantaged 4-year-olds.

In October, the state Board of Education drew up a list of school budget priorities that included some of Etheridge's proposals and excluded others.

Additional reports are scheduled for release later this month from a group of local school superintendents and the Task Force on the Excellence in Secondary Education, the group created by Etheridge in response to the state's poor showing on the Scholastic Aptitude Test.

The proposals presented by the commission Thursday are part of a $325 million plan to upgrade the state's work force through the next five years. Gov. Jim Martin formed the 31-member panel last March to design a career program for students who plan to go to work after high school rather than attend college.

Most of the recommendations require action by the General Assembly, which faces revenue shortfalls in the upcoming session.

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