Message From the Secretary
Nearly four years ago, President Bush and the Congress led our nation in a historic commitment to provide a quality education for every child-regardless of race, income, or special need. No Child Left Behind aims high and focuses on using what works. It brings practical, research-based tools into the classroom, and it holds schools accountable for student achievement.
We now have proof that the law's high standards and accountability are paying off. Scores are at all-time highs for African-American and Hispanic students, especially in the early grades. We have made more progress in the last five years than in the previous 30 combined.
We are no longer relying on guesswork or anecdotal evidence to guide our children's future, as we have too often done in the past. Instead, we are focusing our resources on strategies that are proven to work.
Measuring our children's progress every year helps us understand where help is needed before it's too late. Once we know the contours of a problem and who is affected, we can start working on the solution. Teachers can adjust lesson plans, administrators can evaluate curricula, and the Department can provide clear, achievable priorities and devote resources toward those priorities.
The same principles are guiding the Department's own operations. Although our performance data are fundamentally complete and reliable, we are working to further improve both timeliness and accuracy. We have partnered with state educational agencies, colleges and universities, and financial institutions to streamline reporting systems and create common definitions for performance data.
This report presents complete, reliable information that demonstrates our efforts to hold both programs and financial systems to the highest standards of accountability. For the fourth year in a row, the Department has earned a "clean" opinion from independent auditors on its financial statements. For the third year in a row, we have no material weaknesses in our internal controls. For the programs, organizations, and functions covered by the Federal Managers' Financial Integrity Act, the Department's financial management systems and management controls, taken as a whole, provide reasonable assurance that the objectives of this act are met.
Education is the new civil right. It's the key to realizing the promise of American democracy, and the promise of the American dream. Millions and millions of Americans of every color and every background trust our public schools with their children. They also trust us with their hopes and dreams for their children's future.
High standards and accountability make sense to Americans, and for good reason. Within the Department itself and throughout our nation, we now have proof that those concepts are helping students achieve their dreams.
November 15, 2005