Americas growing economy is a changing economy, and we must respond to these changes by helping more Americans gain the skills to find good jobs in our 21st Century economy.
President Bush has announced a plan to better prepare students for success in higher education and the job market including $33 million for expanded Pell Grants for low-income students who complete rigorous coursework in high school and scholarships for low-income students who pursue degrees in math and science.
The Presidents plan will improve the quality of education at our Nations high schools including $100 million to help striving readers and $120 million to improve math education. The Presidents plan also strengthens and modernizes vocational and technical education, expands math and science education for all students, encourages students to take a rigorous high school curriculum, and enables educators to determine whether high schools are graduating students with the skills they need to succeed.
No Child Left Behind
To help the youngest Americans receive a quality education and learn the basic skills they will need to succeed in the future, President Bush proposed and signed into law the No Child Left Behind Act. All skills begin with the basics of reading and math, which should be learned in the early grades. Yet for too long, for too many children, those skills were never mastered. With the bipartisan No Child Left Behind Act, we are making progress toward educational excellence for every child.
Requiring states to set clear standards for what every child should learn and taking steps to help each child learn.
Holding schools accountable for student progress by regularly testing in the fundamental subjects of reading and math.
Reporting results to parents and ensuring they have better options when schools are not performing.
Providing more funding a 49% increase in Federal support for elementary and secondary education since 2001.
The Next Steps in Helping Young Americans Get the Skills They Need to Succeed in the 21st Century
The No Child Left Behind Act is providing accountability and resources to improve the achievement of Americas elementary and secondary students. These reforms are already beginning to show results in elementary reading and math scores, but President Bush also wants to ensure that all high school students will be better prepared to pursue higher education or enter the workforce. Unfortunately, recent results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) demonstrate that, while achievement for our Nations 4th and 8th graders is on the rise, scores for twelfth graders have declined in both reading and mathematics.
Only 24 states require at least three years of math, and only 21 states require at least three years of science.
Because their math and science education is lacking, young Americans stand to miss out on job opportunities, will lack the necessary skills for post-secondary study, or will not complete post-secondary study in a timely manner.
Students who fall behind in reading have a greater chance of dropping out of high school altogether. Nationally, of one-hundred ninth-graders, only 67 will graduate from high school on time, only 38 will directly enter college, only 26 are still enrolled their sophomore year, and only 18 will end up graduating from college.
U.S. 12th graders performed among the lowest of the 21 countries assessed in both math and science on the Third International Mathematics and Science Study.
The President's Solution
Striving Readers: The Administration is proposing a new $100 million Striving Readers Initiative that would make competitive grants to develop, implement, and evaluate effective reading interventions for middle or high school students reading significantly below grade level. This program would complement the Reading First State Grants program, which provides comprehensive reading instruction for children in kindergarten through third grade that is grounded in scientifically-based reading research. The proposal would provide funds to approximately 50 to 100 school districts for reading intervention programs to help middle and high school students catch up to their peers in reading.
Math: The Administration is proposing a $120 million increase for the Mathematics and Science Partnership program authorized in the No Child Left Behind Act. The increase would support direct Federal competitive grants to partnerships to increase achievement in mathematics for secondary students. The new 3-year competitive grants would support projects that have significant potential to accelerate the mathematics achievement of all secondary students, but especially low-achieving students. The initiative would focus on ensuring that States and school districts implement professional development projects for mathematics teachers that are strongly grounded in research and that help mathematics teachers strengthen their skills.
Advanced Placement: Advanced Placement programs not only encourage the growth of Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses, but also serve as a mechanism for upgrading the entire high school curriculum for all students. The Administration is proposing a $28 million increase for the Advanced Placement program authorized in the No Child Left Behind Act bringing spending on it to nearly $52 million a year. The increase in funds will ensure that teachers in low-income schools are well-trained to teach AP and IB courses.
Adjunct Teacher Corps: Many school districts need opportunities and the personnel to strengthen instruction in middle and high schools in the core academic subjects, especially mathematics and science. The Adjunct Teacher Corps would help alleviate this critical situation by bringing professionals with subject-matter knowledge and experience into the classroom. The Administration is proposing a new $40 million initiative to provide competitive grants to partnerships of school districts and public or private institutions to create opportunities for professionals to teach middle and high school courses in the core academic subjects, particularly in mathematics and science.
State Scholars: The Administration proposes $12 million in funding for the State Scholars program to make grants available nationwide. In August 2002, President Bush announced the State Scholars Initiative, modeled on the successful Texas Scholars program, to encourage high school students to take more rigorous high school courses. Under the State Scholars Initiative, 12 States have already received assistance in developing and promoting strong courses of study, as well as providing special incentives for students enrolled in these programs.
Strengthening and Modernizing Support for Vocational Education: The major federal program for vocational education, the Perkins Vocational Education program, has remained fundamentally unchanged since its founding in 1917; President Bush proposes to modernize this pre-World War I program to better serve the needs of the 21st century worker. The Presidents proposal redirects $1 billion in annual funding from the Perkins Vocational Education program into a new Secondary and Technical Education program (Sec Tech) and requiresthat schools participating in the program offer 4 years of English, 3 years of math and science, and 3½ years of social studies as part of their vocational education curriculum.
Assessing Whether High Schools Are Producing Educated Graduates: To ensure that students graduating from high school have the skills they need to succeed in post-secondary education or careers, the Presidents plan would include 12th graders in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Currently, states are required to participate in the NAEP in 4th and 8th grades in reading and math every two years. Extending this requirement to 12th grade will enable educators to assess whether high schools are meeting the needs of students so they can learn the skills they will need to succeed. It will also help to identify areas where they are not meeting the needs of students and to strengthen curricula to ensure improvement in those areas.
Enhanced Pell Grants: The Bush Administration proposes to establish a $33 million program to enhance Pell Grants to reward low-income students who participate in the State Scholars Program by taking a rigorous high school curriculum. This program would provide up to an additional $1,000 per year to students in the first two years of college who complete the rigorous State Scholars curriculum in high school, enroll in college full time, and are Pell Grant recipients. Next year, approximately 36,000 low-income graduating high school seniors would be eligible to receive an enhanced Pell Grant under this proposal.
Presidential Math and Science Scholars Fund: To ensure that America remains the world leader in the innovation economy and to ensure that Americas graduates have the training they need to compete for the best jobs of the 21st century President Bush wants to expand opportunities for math and science education in colleges and universities. The President proposes establishing a new public-private partnership to provide $100 million in grants to low-income students who study math or science. Under this plan, approximately 20,000 low-income students would receive up to $5,000 each to study math or science. Students would have to be eligible for Pell Grants to receive this additional $5,000, although this new fund would be run separately from the Pell Grant program.
The cost of this new initiative would be offset by an important reform to the Pell Grant program. Currently, there is no limit on the number of years an individual can receive a Pell Grant to help pay for an undergraduate degree. The Administration proposes an 8-year equivalent time limit for a 4-year equivalent degree and a 4-year equivalent time limit for a 2-year equivalent degree. This reform would encourage students to finish sooner and eliminate abuse of the program where students extend their studies excessively.