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 U.S. Department of Education: Promoting Educational Excellence for all Americans - Link to ED.gov Home Page

Goal 2:
Improve Student Achievement | Performance Goals

Reading Achievement [PDF, 1.7MB]

Reading is the keystone of learning.  Reading First is the No Child Left Behind national initiative to improve kindergarten through third grade student reading by supporting state and local educational agencies in establishing reading programs that are grounded in scientifically based reading research.  The National Assessment of Educational Progress reports an improvement in reading achievement: the average reading score at age nine was higher in 2004 than in any previous assessment year.

Mathematics Achievement [PDF, 1.7MB]

To raise the number of highly qualified teachers in mathematics and science and the number of students reaching proficiency in those subjects, school districts use federal resources from the Mathematics and Science Partnership program.  The program connects university professors, business leaders, and staff from nonprofit or for-profit organizations with educators from high-need school districts to improve science and mathematics learning. The results from a descriptive analysis of successful applications to the program indicate that this partnership program is on track in meeting its goals.

High School Completion [PDF, 1.7MB]

"How can a nation that invented the light bulb, created vaccines to eradicate polio, put a man on the moon and conceived the Internet not have a good handle on how many of its students drop out of high school?" says Deputy Secretary Ray Simon.  A consensus for high school reform exists among governors, business leaders, for-profit and nonprofit leaders, and the Department, and reform "must start with an honest calculation of graduation rates."

The Department has adopted an interim formula for calculating states' high school graduation rates, and we will post these rates on our Web site along with state-reported graduation rates.

Academic Proficiency [PDF, 1.7MB]

In a nationally representative sample of high school sophomores, 72 percent of teenagers expect to graduate from a four-year college program. Most students (87 percent) said getting good grades was important or very important to them, with blacks (62 percent) and Hispanics (53 percent) more likely than whites (47 percent) to affirm the importance of getting good grades.  In response to this and additional evidence of high expectations reported in A Profile of the American High School Sophomore in 2002 by the National Center for Education Statistics, Secretary Spellings said, "This report shows that we as a society have done an excellent job selling the dream of attending college, but we have to make sure that we are preparing high school students to succeed once they get in the door."  The Department has begun a reform initiative that will extend the accountability provisions of No Child Left Behind to high schools.

Advanced Placement Participation [PDF, 1.7MB]

Advanced Placement courses are typically considered among the most rigorous high school classes in the curriculum.  In 2005, over 15,000 high schools offered Advanced Placement classes, a 36 percent increase in the last decade.  Students took over 2 million Advanced Placement exams in May 2005, a 12 percent increase over last year and 66 percent more than five years ago.  Growth of the program has been accelerated by a growing national interest in Advanced Placement classes and by provisions in No Child Left Behind that support state programs to increase Advanced Placement participation.

Teacher Quality [PDF, 1.7MB]

No Child Left Behind defines "highly qualified teacher" and requires that all public school teachers of core academic subjects meet the qualifications outlined in the definition by SY 2005-06.  For the first time, the Congress legislated that teachers in every core academic class have a bachelor's degree, have a state license or a certificate, and be competent in the subjects they teach.  The recently reauthorized Individuals with Disabilities Education Act also addresses teacher qualification [PDF, 44K] and requires all special educators who teach core academic subjects to be highly qualified.

Resources provided to states to meet the goal of a "highly qualified teacher" in every class include the $3 billion Improving Teacher Quality State Grants and the $68 million Teacher Quality Enhancement program.