The Improving America's Schools Act of 1994, enacted on October 20, 1994 (P.L. 103-382), reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), with a focus on changing the way we deliver education, encouraging comprehensive systemic school reform, upgrading instructional and professional development to align with high standards, strengthening accountability, and promoting the coordination of resources to improve education for ALL children.
This guidance shows how the Title VI--Innovative Education Program Strategies program (Title VI) working in tandem with the Goals 2000: Educate America Act and the other ESEA programs can contribute to the support that States, local school districts and schools will need to better enable all children to achieve to high standards.
Research supports that the following four principles are considered key to any comprehensive educational improvement effort: 1) high standards for all students; 2) teachers better trained to teach to high standards; 3) flexibility to stimulate local initiative coupled with responsibility for results; and 4) promoting partnerships among families, communities and schools.
SEAs, LEAs and schools are encouraged to realize fully the potential of the ESEA by incorporating these four principles in their school reform efforts. The Department believes that by focusing resources around these key principles for educational improvement, the ESEA substantially contributes to advancing the quality of teaching and learning for ALL students.
High Standards for all students
Professional Experiences that better
Flexibility to stimulate local initiatives coupled
Promoting partnerships among, families,
High Standards for All Students
A clear definition of what all students need to know and be able to do should drive the entire education system.
All children can and must be taught to use complex skills. Instruction too often means merely filling out endless drill and practice worksheets, especially for low-income and low achieving children. Indeed, even when technology is used in teaching these children, it is often little more than computerized drill and practice.
The ESEA advances the concept that all children must have the experiences of reading novels, creating stories, tackling multi-step mathematics problems, and designing and conducting science experiments. There must be progress toward acquiring the skills and knowledge necessary for achieving challenging standards. The ESEA emphasizes that all children must learn problem solving skills which will prepare them for success in a constantly changing technological world.
Professional Development Tied to High Standards
Professional development for educators is a critical element in helping them to enable students to achieve higher standards. Professional development must focus upon the best of an array of high performance instructional strategies - individual and team learning, team teaching, writing across subject areas, active applied learning, interdisciplinary instruction, in-depth and long-term projects, and other new technologies. The ESEA provides the opportunity to change the typical one-time program or activity approach to staff development. It empowers States to design in-depth, sustained, high-quality professional development programs that are connected to overall school-wide improvement strategies to give teachers and other educators the knowledge and skills necessary to provide all children the opportunity to meet challenging academic standards. The Eisenhower Professional Development Program (Title II of the ESEA) and Title VI, working together, can serve as one of the vehicles to coordinate and integrate activities to support this kind of professional development.
Flexibility in Exchange for Results
The reauthorized ESEA represents a shift from narrowly categorical, disconnected education programs that often impeded innovation and coordination to flexible connected programs that promote system-wide reforms based on challenging academic standards for all students. The new legislation provides greater decision-making authority to schools and teachers in exchange for greater responsibility for student performance. Emphasizing results, the ESEA imposes fewer burdens and requirements for SEAs and LEAs. Similarly, it promotes increased flexibility through waivers, consolidated applications, redirection of resources, and coordinated services.
The Department believes that the ESEA programs, together with the Goals 2000: Educate America Act and the School-to-Work Opportunities Act, provide significant flexibility and resources to States and local school districts, schools, and communities to support systemic educational reform.
Partnerships Among Families, Communities, Schools
The ESEA advocates that the system at every level, including the Federal level, work together to move all children toward meeting challenging standards. No longer can the success of individual educational programs and activities be the singular objective for marking educational improvement. Programs working together within a comprehensive plan for enabling all students to achieve high standards should be the goal, with educators responsible for the progress students are making toward reaching the standards.
NOTE: The Department of Education staff are eager to assist you. If issues arise that this guidance does not address, we are always ready to collaborate and explore approaches to help you apply the law to improve teaching and learning for all students.