President Bush has called recent evidence of poor performance by America's high schools "a warning, and a call to action." Only 68 of 100 9th graders in our public schools will graduate on time, and only 18 of those will go on to obtain a college degree. In addition, recent international assessments show that our high school students score well behind those of other nations in key subjects like mathematics. Since most well-paying jobs in our technology-based, globally competitive economy require at least some postsecondary education, the failure to prepare our high school students with the knowledge and skills to succeed literally places our national prosperity at risk.
In response, the President's 2006 request includes a comprehensive proposal that builds on the stronger accountability of No Child Left Behind to improve the quality of secondary education and ensure that every student not only graduates from high school, but graduates prepared to enter college or the workforce with the skills to succeed. The President's budget provides nearly $1.5 billion for his High School Initiative, which includes a High School Intervention program and new High School Assessments, along with an additional $329 million for related proposals:
- $1.24 billion for a High School Intervention initiative that would focus on strengthening high school education and providing specific interventions, including assessment-based performance plans for each student, designed to improve the academic achievement of students at greatest risk of not meeting challenging State academic standards and not completing high school.
- $250 million to help States develop and implement new High School Assessments in reading/language arts and mathematics. The proposal would provide State formula grants to add, by the 2009-2010 school year, annual assessments at two additional high school grades, which along with the one grade currently required by NCLB would ensure that students are assessed at least three times during high school. The request also includes a $22.5 million increase for the National Assessment of Educational Progress to implement State-level assessments in reading and mathematics at the 12th grade in 2007.
- A $175 million increase for the Striving Readers program, funded for the first time in fiscal year 2005, to significantly expand the development and implementation of research-based interventions to improve the skills of teenage students who are reading below grade level.
- $120 million for a new Secondary Education Mathematics Initiative under the Mathematics and Science Partnership program that would provide competitive grants to accelerate the mathematics learning of secondary-school students.
- A $22 million increase for the Advanced Placement program to expand the availability of Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate programs in schools with large populations of low-income students and to train teachers for those programs.
- $12 million for State Scholars Capacity Building to increase the number of States implementing State Scholars programs, which encourage high school students to complete a rigorous four-year course of study. This proposal would complement a $33 million request for Enhanced Pell Grants for State Scholars, which would increase Pell awards by up to $1,000 for students who complete a State Scholars program in high school.
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NCLB Extra Credit is a regular look at the No Child Left Behind Act, President Bush's landmark education reform initiative passed with bipartisan support in Congress.
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