A r c h i v e d  I n f o r m a t i o n

The Improving America's
Schools Act of 1994

Reauthorization of the Elementary
and Secondary Education Act


U.S. Department of Education
Richard W. Riley

September 1995

Twenty years of research and the experiences of dedicated and creative practitioners have contributed to the U.S. Department of Education's elementary and secondary education reform legislation -- including the Goals 2000: Educate America Act (Goals 2000), the Improving America's Schools Act of 1994 (IASA), and the School-to-Work Opportunities Act. Goals 2000 helps states and communities establish a framework for comprehensive, standards-based education reform for all students. The IASA provides additional support and the School-to-Work Opportunities Act helps build additional pathways to enable all children to meet challenging state standards.

Research supports the following four key elements of any comprehensive education improvement effort: 1) high standards for all students; 2) teachers better trained for teaching to high standards; 3) flexibility to stimulate local reform, coupled with accountability for results; and 4) close partnerships among families, communities, and schools. By focusing resources on these key elements of education improvement, the IASA, the law that reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), substantially contributes to advancing the quality of teaching and learning for all students.

High standards for all students

In an increasingly complex and diverse society and an economic environment that will be dominated by high-skilled jobs, today's students must meet high academic standards in order to succeed. Research and practice suggest that all students can learn to meet far more challenging academic standards than we currently expect of them. The IASA provides resources to states, districts, and schools to support their efforts to help students reach high state standards.

Professional experiences that better prepare teachers to teach to high standards

Professional development for teachers, principals, and other school staff is critical to creating and sustaining the learning environments necessary to help all students reach higher levels of achievement.

Flexibility to stimulate local initiative, coupled with responsibility for results

The IASA revises the ESEA to provide broad flexibility to states, school districts, and schools in their implementation of federal programs. At the same time, the IASA calls for strategies to hold school districts and schools accountable for improved student achievement.

Promoting partnerships among families, communities, and schools

Research and practice show that substantial, on-going family involvement in children's learning is a critical link to achieving a high-quality education and a safe, disciplined learning environment.

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) has made a commitment to enhance efforts to coordinate the implementation of its reform legislation, including the IASA, Goals 2000: Educate America Act, and the School-to-Work Opportunities Act. It has moved away from isolated, programmatic efforts toward an integrated system of high-quality service that focuses on improving the performance of all students.

All of the U.S. Department of Education's new efforts are designed to support states, districts, and schools as they work to ensure that all children in America reach challenging academic standards.


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