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 Home > News & Policies > August 2002

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
August 29, 2002

Fact Sheet: President Promotes Stronger Curriculum in Back-To-School Season

Today's Presidential Action

President Bush visited Parkview Arts and Science Magnet High School in Little Rock, Arkansas to highlight the important new changes that are taking place in schools across America as a result of the No Child Left Behind Act, which he signed into law this year.

President Bush also announced a new State Scholars Initiative, modeled on the successful Texas Scholars program, to encourage high school students to take more rigorous high school courses. At the President's recent economic forum in Waco, a panel of education and workforce leaders highlighted the need for a stronger high school curriculum to help students enjoy success in college and the workforce. Too often, the minimum high school graduation requirements fail to adequately prepare students for success in college or the workforce. Due to inadequate preparation in high school, almost half of all college students need to take remedial courses, and fewer students from disadvantaged backgrounds qualify for admission to college. Under the State Scholars Initiative, 5 states (including Arkansas) will receive assistance in developing and promoting strong courses of study, as well as providing special incentives for students enrolled in these programs.

Background on Today's Presidential Action

President Bush signed the No Child Left Behind Act into law on January 8, 2002. As the cornerstone of the President's education reform agenda, the No Child Left Behind Act requires states and school districts to develop strong accountability systems to ensure that every child in America is receiving a quality education. States and school districts will receive additional flexibility and reduced federal red tape through the ability to transfer and consolidate funds to encourage innovation. To achieve the goal of higher student performance, the new law requires a "highly qualified" teacher in every classroom. Parents will have access to more information about how well their local school is performing, and new options to have more control over their child's education. And, every school in America will have new tools to ensure that children can learn to read.

A number of key provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act are being implemented during the new school year, including:

  • Strengthened Accountability -- Beginning in the 2002-03 school year, states will develop accountability systems to measure student progress and better target resources by administering tests in each of three "grade spans" -- grades 3-5, grades 6-9, and grades 10-12 -- in all public schools. Accountability systems will use annual assessments in grades 3-8 beginning in the 2005-2006 school year.
  • Improving Teacher Quality -- Using the new provisions in the No Child Left Behind Act in conjunction with the increased funding proposed in President Bush's budget request, the federal government will invest more than $4 billion in 2002 alone to improve teacher quality and strengthen teacher recruitment throughout America.
  • Increasing Parental Involvement -- Students in schools that have been identified as failing to meet the standards of their state for two years in a row have the option to transfer to a better performing public school in their district beginning in the 2002-2003 school year. School districts will be required to provide transportation to the students, and priority will be given to low-income students. For schools that have failed to meet state standards for three years in a row, children from disadvantaged backgrounds will be eligible to obtain "supplemental services," including tutoring, remedial education, extra classes, summer school, after-school programs, and other supplemental academic services to help boost their achievement.
  • Strengthening Reading Programs -- The new Reading First State Grant program will make 6-year grants to states, which will make competitive subgrants to local communities. The Department of Education has already approved grants to 8 states, including Arkansas. Local recipients will administer screening and diagnostic assessments to determine which students in grades K-3 are at risk of reading failure, and provide professional development for K-3 teachers in the essential components of reading instruction. The new Early Reading First program will make competitive 6-year awards to districts to support early language, literacy, and pre-reading development of preschool-age children, particularly those from low-income families.