A r c h i v e d I n f o r m a t i o n
U.S. Department of Education Strategic Plan, 1998-2002 - September 1997
Goal 1. Help all students reach challenging academic standards so that they are prepared for responsible citizenship, further learning, and productive employment.
Key Outcome Indicators for Elementary and Secondary Education
(These indicators are cross-cutting and apply to many or all objectives in Goals 1 and 2).
- Increasing percentages of all students will meet or exceed basic, proficient, and advanced performance levels in national and state assessments of reading, math, and other core subjects.
- Students in high-poverty schools will show continuous improvement in achieving proficiency levels comparable to those for the nation.
- High school attendance and graduation rates will continually improve-particularly in high-poverty schools and among students with disabilities and others at risk of school failure.
- The proportion of high school graduates, including vocational concentrators, who complete at least three years of science and three years of math will increase 10% between 1996 and 2000.
- Increasing numbers of high school students will successfully complete advanced placement courses each year.
- Students in high-poverty schools will show comparable increases in completion of challenging course work--including advanced placement courses--that will enable them to pursue higher education or other options.
- Increasing percentages of high school graduates will successfully transition into employment, further education, or the military.
The federal government has an important but limited role to play in education reform. Federal support seeks to help states and local communities strengthen schools and improve the educational performance for all children, so that the nation can meet the economic and social challenges of the 21st century.
The key to improving student performance is comprehensive and sustained education reform. States and communities--not the federal government--are developing and implementing challenging academic standards for every child to meet, to ensure that all children know that their schools and communities have high expectations for their academic performance. To further support student academic success, state school-to-work systems place learning in the meaningful context of the world of work and encourage students to prepare for postsecondary education and high-skill employment.
An environment conducive to learning is also important. To learn, students must have schools that are safe and orderly and promote positive values. Essential to high-quality learning are talented and dedicated teachers. In addition, teachers and students need access to advanced technology that assists instruction and helps students develop skills they will need for work and further education.
To achieve effective education reform that meets the needs of all students, everyone must be involved--students; parents; educational leaders at the school, district, and state levels; community members, businesses, and religious groups; and government at all levels.
Use of Evaluations and Assessments in Developing Goal 1
- In formulating Goal 1, the Department relied heavily on the findings from major research studies, national assessments, and evaluations of elementary and secondary programs and continues to be informed by ongoing studies. Studies of effective reforms documented the need to take a systemic approach to aligning all elements of schooling with challenging standards for student performance. Evaluations of programs prior to reauthorization helped identify areas that required major overhaul in Title I and other federal elementary and secondary programs to support whole school improvement in teaching and learning.
- Evaluations of the Title I program for disadvantaged students found that the antecedent program, operating in isolation from state and local improvement efforts, was too weak an intervention to help close the learning gap. These evaluations influenced legislation such as the Improving America's Schools Act and the Goals 2000: Educate America Act.
- The need for standards has been documented especially through international studies (the Third International Mathematics and Science Study) and national assessments such as the National Assessment of Educational Progress that showed mediocre overall achievement and uneven performance of U.S. students in different states and communities.
- A number of studies also identified considerable complacency on the part of students and parents about their performance. Some of the studies suggested that parents cannot rely on student grades to inform them on how well their children are doing. An "A" in a high-poverty school might equal a "C" in a low-poverty school when measured against an external standard.
- Recent studies on drug prevention programs have pointed to the need to strengthen the research base on effective strategies and their use in schools.
- Early findings from the evaluation of the implementation of the School-to-Work Opportunities Act indicated that states have begun building school-to-work systems but have not necessarily imbedded their efforts within general school reform.
Objectives, Indicators, and Strategies
Objective 1.1: States develop and implement challenging standards and assessments for all students in the core academic subjects.
- By the end of the 1997-98 school year, all states will have challenging content and performance standards in place for two or more core subjects.
- By 2001 all states will have assessments aligned to challenging content and performance standards for two or more core subjects.
- By 2002 increasing percentages of the general public and parents will be aware of the importance of challenging academic standards for all children, including at least the majority of parents from low-income families.
Support for standards-based reform has deepened over the past six years and is now part of almost all state plans for education reform. The support for standards that came initially from subject matter experts and professional associations has broadened to include state policymakers, business leaders, and community coalitions. Even so, considerable work needs to be done to move from understanding standards to implementing them in the classroom.
Changing instruction and curricula will require even greater effort over the next five years than meeting the original challenge of developing support for the concept of standards. Survey results and other sources indicate that developing assessments and related student performance standards, improving professional development programs, and linking accountability to school and student performance may be the most effective policy levers for the Department. The federal government can assist by providing support and guidance on challenging standards and assessments, and by offering highly focused, voluntary national tests that can serve as benchmarks for parents and communities.
- Support for development of standards and assessments. Provide financial support to states to develop and implement clear, challenging academic standards and aligned assessments in ways that promote excellence and equity-through the Goals 2000: Educate America Act; Elementary and Secondary Education Act programs such as Title I Aid for Disadvantaged Children; Eisenhower Professional Development program; Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Carl D. Perkins Vocational Education and Applied Technology Education Act; and other federal programs designed to help all students achieve to high academic standards.
- Technical assistance and information sharing. Use the Department's comprehensive technical assistance centers, regional education laboratories, research and development centers, and new, cross-cutting Department monitoring teams (integrated review teams) to assist states and school districts in implementing challenging academic standards and aligned assessments.
- Public awareness and community engagement.Conduct a national campaign of awareness and community engagement to increase public understanding and support for challenging academic standards and the national assessments in reading and math.
- Federal programs that support standards.
- Implement federal program requirements calling for the adoption of state standards.
- For Title I, provide technical assistance, guidance, and models of quality standards and their effective implementation to support the efforts of states to link Title I and other federally-supported programs to state standards.
- Help guide the development of assessments that make appropriate accommodations for students with limited English proficiency or disabilities.
Objective 1.2: Every state has a school-to-work system that increases student achievement , improves technical skills, and broadens career opportunities for all.
- Increasing percentages of high school graduates from school-to-work systems or from vocational concentrations will successfully transition into employment, further education, or the military.
- Increasing percentages of employers will be highly satisfied with the productivity and work-readiness skills of graduates from school-to-work systems or vocational concentrations.
- By fall 2000, the percentage of high school students passing industry-recognized tests on technical skills will increase by at least 10%.
- Two million youth will be engaged actively in school-to-work systems by fall 2000.
- By 2000 an increasing percentage of secondary schools will provide opportunities for students to achieve industry-recognized skill standards.
- Thirty percent of high schools will have key school-to-work system components in place by fall 2000.
- All youths with disabilities age 14 and older will have IEPs that include a statement of transition service needs that will help focus on courses of study.
Researchers, educators, employers, and policymakers have sought ways to make education relevant to students' future careers, adapt instruction to the ways in which students learn best, and ensure that students learn the habits and skills that employers value. By adding meaningful context from the world of work, educators hope to engage the interest and intellect of students and help them learn more effectively. Whether learning by doing and in context is accomplished at school or in a work setting, school-to-work systems (STW) seek to improve career prospects and academic achievement in high school--and thereby boost enrollment in postsecondary education and increase the likelihood of obtaining high-skill, high-wage employment.
- Financial support for STW systems. Help build comprehensive school-to-work systems in every state by providing grants under the School-to-Work Opportunities Act and by supporting high-quality technical training through vocational education and tech-prep education.
- Interagency and interoffice collaboration. Continue to work with the Department of Labor to administer the School-to-Work Opportunities Act; and align grant-making, monitoring, and technical assistance, financial audit, performance reporting, and other key processes in the school-to-work initiative with those in related education programs in both departments.
- System improvement. Assist implementation and improve the quality of school-to-work systems through technical assistance, identification of promising practices, and evaluation of states' progress.
- Involvement of schools, colleges, and employers in building school-to-work systems and stronger vocational education programs.
- Engage high schools, postsecondary institutions, and adult high schools by sponsoring a national information center; creating networks that include educators, employers, and other key stakeholder groups; and sponsoring efforts to align postsecondary admissions policies with new methods of assessing high school student performance.
- Build strong employer participation in school-to-work by targeting outreach activities at employers and their organizations and by collaborating with the National Employer Leadership Council.
- Professional development.
- Prepare teachers to fully participate in school-to-work by helping colleges of education to incorporate school-to-work elements in their curricula.
- Support teacher training efforts aimed at improving the skills of teachers in using contextual learning approaches to instruction of basic and technical skills.
Objective 1.3: Schools are safe, disciplined, and drug-free.
- Recent increasing rates of alcohol and drug use (alcohol, marijuana, tobacco) among school-age children will slow and begin to fall by 2000.
- Rates of alcohol and drug use in schools will slow and begin to fall by 2000.
- The number of criminal and violent incidents in schools by students will continually decrease between now and 2002.
- The percentage of students reporting tolerant attitudes toward drug and alcohol use will decline significantly between now and 2002.
- By 1999 all local educational agencies participating in the Safe and Drug-Free Schools program will use prevention programs based on the Department's principles of effectiveness.
- By 1999 all states will conduct periodic statewide surveys or collect statewide data on alcohol and drug use of students and incidents of crime and violence in schools.
- The percentage of teachers who are trained to deal with discipline problems in the classroom will increase significantly by 2000.
After more than a decade of declines, illegal drug use by American youth has increased significantly. Youth attitudes toward drug use, which are a strong predictor of changes in actual drug use, continue to show tolerance toward drug use. Rates of interpersonal violence are unacceptably high, and serious violent activity in and around schools appears to be escalating. Although the federal government has provided support to schools to help them develop and implement drug prevention activities, these efforts have not been universally successful. Definitive research findings about effective school-based practices have been slow to emerge. Indeed, a recent longitudinal study of 19 school districts found that although some drug prevention programs in these districts improved student outcomes, the effects were small. Moreover, the study found that few schools employed program approaches that have been found effective in previous research, and that program delivery was inconsistent.
- Promotion of effective approaches..
- Implement principles of effectiveness for the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act to focus support on promising practices and use of sound information for program improvement.
- Through research and evaluation, identify effective violence and drug prevention programming.
- Disseminate effective programs and strategies through technical assistance and training, conferences, publications, and use of technology.
- Provide teacher training under programs such as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Professional Development program to improve teachers' skills in reducing conflict.
- Financial support. Continue to fund states and local school districts under the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act program, while working to improve the quality of local activities.
- Public attitudes. Help youth and parents understand the harmful nature of drug use by participating in or conducting media campaigns and other dissemination activities, in conjunction with other agencies.
- Prohibiting drug and alcohol use. The Department will encourage state efforts to support existing local policies prohibiting drug and alcohol use in schools (97% of schools and districts have such policies) and also their efforts to cover all schools with such policies.
- Improved data systems. Improve the capacity of states and school districts to collect and analyze information on alcohol and drug use and violent behavior.
- Interagency coordination. Work with other federal agencies--including the Departments of Justice, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, and Transportation; the President's Crime Prevention Council; and the Office of National Drug Control Policy--to coordinate strategies to reduce drug and alcohol use and violence.
Objective 1.4: A talented and dedicated teacher is in every classroom in America.
- The percentage of teachers and principals across the nation who are rated by supervisors, parents, and peers as very effective will increase annually.
- Throughout the nation the percentage of secondary school teachers who have at least a minor in the subject they teach will increase annually.
- The percentage of qualified new teachers who leave the profession within the first 3 years will continuously decrease.
- The number of nationally board certified teachers will increase to reach 105,000 by 2006.
- By 2002, 75% of states will align initial teacher certification standards with high content and student performance standards.
A talented, dedicated, and well-prepared teaching force is one of the most important ingredients for education reform. Research indicates that teachers' knowledge and skill make a crucial difference in what students learn. Research also demonstrates the value of intensive and sustained high-quality professional development when developing skills in new models of teaching and learning. The current teaching force needs high-quality professional development if all teachers are to be able to teach a diverse student population to challenging standards. Further, new teachers must be well prepared to help diverse learners master challenging content and performance standards. It is estimated that about one-fourth of newly hired teachers lack the qualifications for their jobs. There is also high turnover in beginning teachers--22% of beginning teachers drop out of the teaching profession within the first three years. Key reasons include lack of support and typical "sink or swim" approaches to induction.
- Improving the quality and retention of new teachers.
- Support programs to recruit talented people from all backgrounds into teaching.
- Improve the quality of teacher education for new teachers.
- Encourage and support special efforts to retain new teachers.
- Support career ladders that will enable bilingual paraprofessionals to become certified teachers.
- Financial support and interagency coordination. Provide funds to states and schools through the Eisenhower and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) professional development programs, as well as other programs in which professional development is an allowable activity (e.g., Title I, Vocational Education, Bilingual Education, and Technology Literacy Challenge Grants). Coordinate with the National Science Foundation to implement strategies to improve the skills of teachers through the professional development programs of both agencies.
- Licensing standards. Through the Partnership for Excellence and Accountability in Teaching, support states' efforts to align licensing and certification requirements with challenging content standards and performance-based assessments.
- Teacher recognition and accountability. Support the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and programs that reward good teachers and address the problems of incompetent ones.
- Research, development, evaluation, and dissemination.
- The National Evaluation of the Eisenhower Professional Development Program will evaluate the program's alignment with high state standards and principles of duration and intensity.
- Provide educators and policymakers with valid, research-based strategies for improving quality.
- Increase support for quality teaching and professional development among government, business, community leaders, and the general public through outreach and dissemination of information.
- Establish the Partnership for Excellence and Accountability in Teaching to work with stakeholders and carry out applied research.
- Establish a Teacher Policy Center to conduct research on policies related to teaching.
- Monitoring trends. Issue a biennial national report card on teacher quality starting in 1998.
Objective 1.5: Families and communities are fully involved with schools and school improvement efforts.
- The percentage of students who come to school prepared for learning and having completed their homework, as rated by their teachers, will increase substantially over the next five years, especially among children from low-income families.
- The percentage of young children who read regularly at home with their parents and on their own (at least 15 minutes a day, five days a week) will increase to 90% by 2002.
- The percentage of parents who meet with teachers about their children's learning will show continuous improvement, reaching 90% by 2002.
- The percentage of parents who say that the school actively encourages and facilitates family involvement will show continuous improvement.
- By 2002 the number of children participating in after-school programs will double, from 1.7 million to 3.4 million children. (Legislation needed)
Over 30 years of research clearly shows that all families--whether they are rich or poor, whether the parents finished high school or not, or whether kids are in preschool or high school--can help their children learn. Greater family involvement in children's learning is a critical link to achieving a high-quality education and a safe, disciplined learning environment for every student.
- Public understanding and outreach. Promote family and community involvement in the learning of children in school and after school through public awareness campaigns in major newspapers and educational organization publications; outreach efforts to provide information on programs, research, and best practices; and by making materials in Spanish available to families.
- Partnership for Family Involvement in Education.
- Sign on 1,000 new members annually by outreach efforts of current partners and membership drives at public forums.
- Develop opportunities and capacity for schools, families, communities, and employers to work together through continuing nationwide activities of the Partnership (Read*Write*Now; America Goes Back to School, and a new initiative focused on middle schools).
- Program assistance and support for family involvement. Provide support for parental involvement by expanding Goals 2000 parent assistance centers to every state, providing technical assistance to support Title I compacts, continuing parental outreach and information in School-to-Work, supporting parents of children with disabilities through the IDEA Parent Training and Information Centers, and implementing the 21st Century Learning Centers.
- Family involvement in civil rights to education. Create partnerships among parents, community groups, and a broad range of stakeholders to engage in collaborative efforts to ensure equal educational opportunity for all students. Provide civil rights information, technical expertise, and other assistance in building these linkages.
- Research, development, and evaluation.
- Launch a systematic analytic agenda to identify and highlight programs and practices that successfully engage families, schools, and communities in school improvement efforts.
- Disseminate the latest research findings that help prepare teachers to support family involvement activities to institutions and organizations that provide pre-service and in-service programs.
- Evaluate the activities of the Partnership and its members.
- New after-school programs. To support students and families after school and to extend learning time and promote safety, help create new after-school programs by expanding the role of the Community Partners and by providing federal program assistance (Title I, 21st Century Learning Centers, and dissemination of materials). Legislation needed.
Objective 1.6: Greater public school choice will be available to students and families.
- By 2002, 25% of all public school students in grades 3-12 will attend a school that they or their parents have chosen.
- By 2001 a minimum of 40 states will have charter school legislation.
- By 2002 there will be 3,000 charter schools in operation around the nation.
- School districts will increasingly make choice available to their students through magnet schools, charter schools, and open enrollment policies.
Research on public schools that provide choice suggests that the sense of ownership by school staff, students, and parents helps to galvanize effort towards common goals. Information on the educational effects of choice programs is limited; most charter schools are just getting started. Further work needs to be done on documenting the implementation and quality of public schools of choice and sharing the most promising strategies with the field.
The Department of Education is encouraging expansion of choice within the public school system with alternatives such as charter schools, magnet schools, and systemwide strategies that make every public school a school of choice, thereby enabling all students and their parents to choose their school.
- Charter schools are intended to give teachers, parents, and other members of local communities the flexibility to experiment with innovative methods of achieving educational excellence. At the same time, they should help all students have access to quality schooling. Because they are new schools, charters require start-up funds and support that the Department helps to provide through its Charter School program.
- For several decades, magnet schools have provided the most widespread opportunity for families to exercise choice. The Department's Magnet School program provides support for magnet schools that are intended to achieve desegregation goals, particularly in our largest cities.
- Engage the public. Expand support by the public and policymakers for the development of high-quality charter and magnet schools.
- Financial support and technical assistance.
- Through the Charter Schools Grants program, help states and schools effectively plan and implement charter schools that have flexibility from state and district rules, are open to all students, and are held accountable for improving student achievement.
- Continue to support implementation of magnet schools through grants to school districts under the Magnet Schools program, providing opportunities and choice for students and promoting desegregation within high-quality education settings.
- Research and development. Support research on public school choice, including evaluations of the effectiveness of charter schools and magnet schools, and promote the development of models and materials to help parents, teachers, and communities to design effective school choice programs.
- Disseminate information on strategies for expanding high-quality school choice programs that improve student achievement and share lessons learned from research about school choice.
- Increase awareness and support for effective public school choice programs among government, business leaders, and community leaders, and the general public through outreach and dissemination of information.
Objective 1.7: Schools use advanced technology for all students and teachers to improve education.
- Students who have access to high-quality educational technology will show improved achievement in core academic subjects and improved technological literacy.
- The ratio of students per modern multimedia computer will improve to 5:1 by 2001.
- The percentage of public school instructional rooms connected to the Information Superhighway will increase from 14% in 1996 to 25% in 1998, and higher percentages thereafter.
- At least 50% of teachers will integrate high-quality educational technology, high-quality software, and the Information Superhighway into their school curricula, by 2001.
- Students in high poverty schools and students with disabilities will have access to advanced technology (including assistive technology for students with disabilities) that is comparable to that in other schools by 2001.
- At least 60% of teachers, school administrators, and school librarians will have been trained on use of computers and the Internet to help students learn, by 2001.
Hundreds of studies have found that, when properly used, technology improves many aspects of education, including student learning, teacher professional development, classroom management, and school administration. As an instructional tool, technology helps students master basic skills, solve complex real-life problems that require advanced skills, and prepare for the world of work.
Few schools have adequate numbers of modern computers or access to the Internet, and relatively few teachers are prepared to use technology effectively. Further, access to computers and other technologies is not enough; integration of technology into the curriculum is also needed. We must create an infrastructure that will enable all students to leave school with the technology skills needed for work and further education. Finally, we must encourage development of software and universal design interfaces that make advanced technology fully accessible to students with disabilities.
- Technology connections, especially for high-poverty schools.
- Use the Federal Communications Commission's Universal Service Fund discounts and "NetDays" to wire schools for using educational technology and to connect them to the Internet.
- Encourage use of technology connections, such as voice mail, faxes, and e-mail, to stimulate communication between families, communities, teachers, and schools.
- Access to modern computers and other technology.
- Encourage local, state, federal and private sector partnerships to provide access to modern computers for all teachers and students, including those in high-poverty schools.
- Provide financial support through the Technology Literacy Challenge Fund and other programs to states and districts to plan, purchase, and use modern computers and other educational technology.
- Support development, dissemination, and use of assistive technology that enables students with disabilities to participate fully in education programs. Key programs include research by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research and support from the Assistive Technology program and IDEA.
- Effective software. Using state and local standards as guides and building on research and development of effective practices, including those developed with support of the Technology Literacy Challenge Grants, work with the private sector to develop effective and engaging software and on-line learning resources as an integral part of school curriculum.
- Program coordination. Through our technology initiative, coordinate Department technology programs (Technology Challenge programs, regional consortia, Star Schools, IDEA technology and media services, assistive technology, Ready-to-Learn Television, and telecommunications math programs); other programs that can support technology, such as Title I and IDEA; and programs and services in other federal agencies such as the National Science Foundation.
- Professional development. Building on new teaching standards, support teacher training through federal programs such as Eisenhower Professional Development, Technological Literacy Challenge Fund, Star Schools, Bilingual Education, Vocational Education, and Title I programs, and by working with the National Science Foundation. In partnership with states, local districts, and the private sector, create new incentives and approaches and provide technical assistance that will help teachers use technology more effectively.
[Framework of Strategic Plan Goals and Objectives]
[Goal 2. Build a solid foundation for learning for all children.]