January 30th, 2007 08:45 EST
Secretary Spellings Highlights the Importance of Closing the Achievement Gap
Atlanta, Georgia — U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings today met with business and community leaders, students and teachers in Atlanta, Georgia, rounding out a month-long celebration of the five-year anniversary of the historic No Child Left Behind Act and stressing the importance of reauthorizing the law this year. Secretary Spellings underscored President Bush's message from last week's State of the Union address that the goals of No Child Left Behind are reasonable and attainable—and that the law is working.
"No Child Left Behind helps kids by measuring their progress and holding schools accountable for results," Secretary Spellings said. "It helps teachers by providing them with information and resources to better help their students. And it helps parents by giving them a more direct say in children's education."
While in Atlanta, Secretary Spellings offered keynote remarks to the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, a nonprofit research organization focusing on education policy issues. The Secretary touted the President's priorities for reauthorization of No Child Left Behind outlined in Building on Results: A Blueprint for Strengthening No Child Left Behind, released on the heels of his speech last week. Among key policy recommendations, the Secretary discussed the President's commitment to strengthening students' math and science skills and intensifying high school rigor to prepare them for college and the 21st century workforce.
Joined today by Georgia Superintendent of Schools Kathy Cox, Secretary Spellings also visited Sequoyah Middle School to discuss how No Child Left Behind is working to increase achievement for all students and highlight new proposals to help schools that may be in need of improvement. Until last year, Sequoyah was a chronically underperforming school, failing to reach state learning standards for more than five years. After restructuring and making fundamental curriculum changes, students are now reaching their academic goals and the school is on-track to have every child learning at grade level by 2014.
During her visit to Sequoyah Middle School, Secretary Spellings met with teachers and students to commend them on this progress. She also visited with a reading class for limited English proficient (LEP) students, and discussed the President's commitment to ensuring that schools provide LEP students with the tools and resources they need to succeed.
According to the 2005 Nation's Report Card, Georgia has experienced success under No Child Left Behind, particularly for students with special needs, and is working daily to close the achievement gap. In 2004-05, more than 70 percent of the state's LEP students scored proficient or better in reading, up 23 percent from 2002. Among third-graders with disabilities in Georgia, 81 percent scored proficient or better in reading, up 26 percentage points.
"I believe that every school in America can achieve. But to get there, we must provide parents, teachers, and administrators with the tools they need to succeed. And we must hold the system accountable for every student's achievement," Secretary Spellings said.
"Now that we're shining a spotlight on their progress, students are making tremendous gains. Every day, they're proving that if we raise the bar, our children will rise to the challenge," Secretary Spellings said.
"Thanks to the hard work of our teachers, our students and our administrators, we are seeing historic improvements in education," said Superintendent of Schools Kathy Cox. "It was an honor to show Secretary Spellings some of the great things that are happening in Georgia's schools."
Also this week, Secretary Spellings will continue her national dialogue about the state of our nation's education system and the need to reauthorize No Child Left Behind during a visit to North Carolina.
For the full text of Building on Results, please visit: http://www.ed.gov/policy/elsec/leg/nclb/buildingonresults.html
A fact sheet is available at: http://www.ed.gov/news/opeds/factsheets/index.html?src=gu
Contact: Rebecca Neale