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 2. Build a solid foundation for learning for all children.
In fostering the achievement of world-class student performance discussed in Goal 1, reform efforts need to focus on three main areas.
- Promoting family and community efforts to support children's early development and education, to ensure that all children have an appropriate preparation for school.
- Identifying what students will need to know and be able to do in core subject areas and what strategies are effective in improving instruction. Federal programs and efforts across the nation must focus on enabling all students to master fundamental and advanced reading and math skills. Children need to be able to read independently and effectively by the end of third grade, to be able to apply reading to learning other subjects.
Similarly, acquiring mathematics skills and knowledge that prepare students for algebra, geometry, and more advanced work is critical to student success in high school and beyond. In mathematics, the latest results from the Third International Mathematics and Science Study affirm that poor U.S. performance in the eighth grade is linked to mediocre content, lack of instructional rigor, and inadequate training and support for quality teaching.
- Meeting the diverse needs of the student population, so that all students--including limited-English proficient students, students with disabilities, migrant students, students in high-poverty schools, and any students at risk of not achieving the knowledge and skills required to achieve high state standards--receive the support and encouragement they need to succeed.
To address these three areas, the Department:
- Provides financial support to states and local school districts to help underwrite improvement.
- Will be offering voluntary, national tests in reading and math so that parents and communities will know how well their children and schools are performing in these two critical areas compared with those in other communities.
- Is implementing priority initiatives in reading and math to bring together resources throughout the Department as well as involve key partners in education and the business community in support.
- Promotes educational practices conducive to learning for all students.
- Eliminates discriminatory practices within schools that contribute to deficiencies in achievement.
Use of Evaluations and Assessments in Developing Goal 2
Goal 2 relies on having timely and accurate information with which to track the preparation of young children for school and the progress of all students in reaching challenging standards. Sources for this information include special analyses of the National Assessment of Educational Progress for high-poverty and Title I schools, and state and local assessments. The proposed national tests in reading and math will become a highly valuable source of information once they are implemented in states and communities.
- Cross-cutting evaluations of Goals 2000 and the reauthorized elementary and secondary programs are documenting how states and communities are implementing reforms to enable all students to achieve to challenging standards. Services provided to students who are the target populations for federal programs are a special focus. Studies have examined the supports that federal programs are providing to improve curriculum, technology, professional development, and parental engagement.
- In the early implementation of the Even Start program, evaluation documented how more intensive programs--especially the parenting education component--were associated with strong program results for children. This and other findings helped to shape Even Start's reauthorization. Evaluations will continue to document how services affect children's school readiness and help parents support learning at home.
Objectives, Indicators, and Strategies
Objective 2.1: All children enter school ready to learn.
- Kindergarten and first grade teachers will increasingly report that their students enter school ready to learn reading and math.
- The disparity in preschool participation rates between children from high-income families and children from low-income families will decline year by year.
- The percentage of children from birth to five years old whose parents read to them or tell them stories regularly will continually increase.
Recent research has highlighted the importance of the earliest years of life for children's later success. Children's early learning experiences, or lack of them, have consequences that extend into the long-term. Research on early brain development reveals that if some learning experiences are not introduced to children at an early age, the children will find learning more difficult later. Furthermore, children who enter school ready to learn are more likely to achieve to high standards than children who are inadequately prepared. High-quality preschool and child care are integral in preparing children adequately for school.
- Interagency coordination and services integration. Support children at risk of early school failure by coordinating with the Department of Health and Human Service's (HHS) Head Start program, HHS' and Department of Agriculture's nutrition support programs, and other federal programs and services for young children to ensure that their needs are met and to reduce the burden on families and schools of working with multiple providers.
- Financial support for children who are educationally disadvantaged or have disabilities.Provide resources to states and local school districts under Title I for preschool programs and Even Start, and to states and local providers under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) for programs aimed at infants and toddlers and preschool children with disabilities or at risk of developing disabling conditions.
- Research, development, and technical assistance.
- Identify, evaluate, and encourage the use of programs for young children that make use of the latest research on early brain development, early intervention, and high-quality nurturing.
- Develop, field test, and evaluate models of effective practice through such programs as Even Start that can be shared with local Head Start, Title I preschool, and IDEA preschool projects and with states, local districts, and community-based organizations.
- Work with experts to develop an agreed-upon definition of school readiness and to establish a core set of standards that Even Start, Title I preschool, and IDEA programs will use with preschoolers.
- Development and dissemination of easy-to-use kits for learning at home. Support family practices that encourage early learning by developing and disseminating educational materials for parents and their young children, such as the Ready*Set*Read Early Childhood Kit.
- Development of readiness indicators. Develop indicators of young children's knowledge and school readiness by working with HHS and other organizations, incorporating measures from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study and other studies of children's school readiness.
Objective 2.2: Every child reads independently by the end of the third grade.
- Increasing percentages of fourth-graders will meet basic, proficient, and advanced levels in reading on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).
- At least 25% of students will participate in the national reading test by spring 1999; increasing percentages thereafter will participate.
- By 2001 the America Reads Challenge corps will prepare tutors for 3 million children, including at least 100,000 college work-study tutors annually. (Legislation needed.)
- Increasing percentages of teachers of kindergarten through third grade will complete intensive professional development to enable them to skillfully teach reading.
In 1994, 40% of fourth-graders failed to attain the basic level of reading on the National Assessment of Educational Progress and 70% did not attain the proficient level. Although reading problems are particularly severe for disadvantaged students, students with reading difficulties represent a cross-section of American children. As more and more jobs require better reading skills, many students will have to improve their reading skills.
The Department's existing programs make a vital contribution to the reading success of young children. Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act provides reading services to millions of children each year. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and bilingual education funds under Title VII also support reading services for children. Although teachers and schools have the critical responsibility for literacy, studies find that sustained, individual attention and tutoring after school and over the summer can raise reading levels when combined with parental involvement and quality school instruction.
- Legislation. Work with Congress to pass the America Reads Challenge legislation.
- Financial support for children with special needs. Provide in-class reading instruction with upgraded standards and curriculum-especially for children in kindergarten through third grade. Key programs that support reading instruction include Title I Grants for Disadvantaged Children, Bilingual Education, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and Even Start.
- Voluntary national test.
- Support the development and effective use of a national, voluntary test in reading so that parents, teachers, and communities have a benchmark for children's progress.
- Provide accommodations for students with disabilities and limited English proficiency in taking the national test, including providing reports for parents in English and several other languages.
- Public information. Provide information via the world wide web and other means to bring about an understanding of what it means to read independently and share strategies that teachers, parents, and others can use to help students achieve this goal.
- Community partnerships. Encourage community partnerships that sponsor reading tutors (the America Reads Challenge, Read*Write*Now, Parents as First Teachers, and college work-study).
- Research and development.
- Support state-of-the-art research-including a reading center-to test, validate, disseminate, and encourage the use of effective approaches to reading instruction and tutoring, especially for students experiencing difficulty with reading.
- Coordinate with reading research conducted for children with learning disabilities by the National Institute for Child Health and Development (NICHD).
- Evaluation and performance measurement.
Through evaluation studies and support to improve state and local performance data systems, provide useful information on how states and communities are doing in improving children's reading.
Objective 2.3: Every eighth grader masters challenging mathematics, including the foundations of algebra and geometry.
- More eighth-graders reach the basic level or higher levels of proficiency in math on the National Assessment of Educational Progress; on international assessments, at least 60% will score at the international median by 2002, and at least 15% will be in the top 10% by 2002.
- At least 25% of students will participate in the national math test by spring 1999; increasing percentages thereafter will participate.
- Each year, more new teachers will enter the workforce with adequate preparation to teach challenging mathematics to students in kindergarten through eighth grade.
- Each year, more teachers in grades 5-8 will complete intensive professional development to enable them to teach challenging mathematics.
- Each year, increasing numbers of schools will have access to and use information on best practices for math instruction.
Mathematics is a basic skill--the gateway to learning many more advanced skills, the language of technology and science, a tool for analysis and problem solving, and a prerequisite for success in a wide variety of careers. Leading employers emphasize the need for U.S. students to excel in quantitative and problem-solving skills in order to succeed in the workplace. Math, like reading, has a key academic turning point; for math this occurs around eighth grade. Eighth-graders are often put on different tracks that they follow through high school and even beyond; math often determines what that track will be.
Notwithstanding math's importance, U.S. students fail to achieve to the high standards needed for math success. The recent Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) showed that although U.S. fourth-graders perform above the international average in math, our eighth-graders scored below the international average. The study also showed that we do not expect eighth-graders to master material as challenging as the material that students in high-performing nations master by that grade.
- Voluntary national test.
- Support the development of a national, voluntary test in math so that parents and communities have a benchmark for their children's progress.
- Use the test as a means of encouraging schools, districts, states, business, and communities to improve math curricula, instruction, teacher training, and professional development.
- Provide accommodations for students with disabilities and limited English proficiency in taking the test, including providing reports for parents in English and several other languages.
- Professional development programs.Strengthen the Department's existing programs that support teacher preparation and upgrading teacher skills for math instruction--especially for teachers of fourth through eighth grades--such as Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the Eisenhower Professional Development program, and the Individuals with Disabilities Act Professional Development.
- Challenging standards. Promote upgraded standards and curriculum for math instruction through Goals 2000, the Eisenhower Professional Development program, and Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, and by working with the National Science Foundation.
- Public information. Increase public understanding and support for mastering challenging mathematics by the end of eighth grade through partnerships with key education, mathematics, and professional organizations; further collaborative activity with the National Science Foundation; and providing concrete information about what students should be able to do in mathematics.
- Research, development, and dissemination. Based on state-of-the-art research, develop high quality materials on effective practices and tools for improving math curriculum, professional development, software, instruction, and family and community support; widely disseminate these materials; and promote the use of these materials by states, schools, teachers, and families.
Objective 2.4: Special populations receive appropriate services and assessments consistent with high standards.
Outcome indicators for children and youth in special populations are included throughout Goals 1 and 2 and especially in the key outcome indicators for elementary and secondary education.
At-risk children need the same high quality schooling that is our goal for all students plus extra supports to help them succeed. These children may include students with limited-English proficiency or disabilities, migrant students, students in high-poverty schools, and others who are the focus of federal programs. Federal support is critical to ensuring that these students are not left behind in the drive for higher standards. Working to enable at-risk children to reach the high standards expected of all students must figure prominently in reform efforts. Whole-school approaches or targeted interventions must be based on the best research and promising practices from the field. Assessment of our nation's progress must be measured in terms of not only how well states, districts, and schools perform overall, but also in terms of how at-risk students fare.
- States will implement appropriate procedures for assessing and reporting progress towards achieving to high standards by students who have disabilities, are limited English proficient, or are children of migrant workers, by 2001.
- The number of schools using comprehensive, research-based approaches to improve curriculum, instruction, and support services for at-risk students will increase annually.
- Increasing percentages of administrators and educators working with at-risk children will have access to and use high-quality information and technical assistance on effective practices provided by Department-sponsored technical assistance and research centers as well as through professional associations and publications.
- Increasing percentages of teachers will be equipped with strategies to enable students with limited English proficiency or disabilities to meet challenging standards.
- Federal technical assistance and other support to states will result in annual increases in the number of states and local school districts with the capacity to disaggregate and report out assessment data aligned with standards for at-risk students.
- Challenging standards in federal programs. Work with states and districts to ensure that the standards set for students served by federal programs are the same challenging standards set for all children through providing technical assistance, guidance, and models of effective implementation of challenging standards.
- Assessment with accommodations. Promote the development of assessments aligned with high standards that make appropriate accommodations for children with disabilities and limited English proficiency.
- Financial support Provide significant resources to states, local school districts, and other education providers to improve achievement for children with special needs and assist states in providing education that meets civil rights requirements for free and appropriate education. The Department funds major programs aimed at disadvantaged children or children with disabilities, including:
- Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (education for disadvantaged children)
- Migrant education programs
- Title I program for neglected and delinquent children
- Programs for homeless children and youth
- Indian education
- Bilingual education
- Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) grants to states
- Research, development, dissemination and technical assistance on promising practices. Support and share research on the most promising practices through the research institutes and R&D centers of the Department's Office of Education Research and Improvement (OERI), Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS), the Office of Bilingual Education and Minority Languages Affairs (OBEMLA), and the Department of Health and Human Services' National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) to focus on strategies for teaching and assessing children with special needs. In particular, provide technical assistance and disseminate information on including children with disabilities in the general curriculum in the least restrictive environment.
- Professional development. Support professional development that equips teachers with strategies to enable students with limited English proficiency or disabilities to meet challenging standards. Key programs include professional development programs sponsored under the Individual with Disabilities Act and Bilingual Education Act, as well as that provided under Title I.
- Evaluation and continuous improvement.
- Conduct evaluations of federally supported programs to determine the extent to which new program provisions support standards-based reforms and continuous improvement to help students meet challenging academic standards.
- Use evaluations to inform continuous improvement of programs.
[Goal 1. Help all students reach challenging academic standards...]
[Goal 3. Ensure access to postsecondary education and lifelong learning.]