United States is not on track with federal education goals

WASHINGTON (AP) — America has made little headway in reaching eight national education goals set for the year 2000, according to a panel monitoring the project.
“At our present rate of progress, we’re not going to make it,” said Ken Nelson, executive director of the National Education Goals Panel. “We have to escalate our commitment to it, and it’s best done at the state and local level.”
The bipartisan panel was set up to track progress in meeting the “Goals 2000” developed after President Bush and the governors held an education summit in 1989 in Charlottesville, Va.
The report said about a third of the states are making significant strides in certain areas.
The goals say that by 2000:
ù All U.S. children will start school ready to learn.
ù The high school graduation rate will be 90 percent or higher.
ù Students will leave grades 4, 8 and 12 having shown competency in challenging subject matter.
ù U.S. students will be the best in the world in math and science.
ù Every American adult will be literate.
ù Schools will be free of drugs, guns and violence.
ù Schools will promote partnerships with parents.
ù Teachers will be able to access professional development.
The panel’s report said that since 1990, the nation has scored higher marks on five of more than 20 indicators set up to measure performance toward “Goals 2000.”
Fourth- and 8th-graders are doing better in math; students are experiencing fewer threats and injuries at school; family reading is more prevalent; national performance has improved in infant health; and more students are earning math and science degrees.
National performance declined, however, on eight of the indicators and remained unchanged in many areas, the report said. For instance, performance has declined in reading achievement at grade 12. Teacher preparation and participation in adult education have also gone down.
Meanwhile, drug activity and classroom disruptions are on the rise, the report said.
The states have made the most progress in the goal that calls for a 90 percent high school completion rate by the year 2000.
The report also focuses on state efforts to set academic standards and develop assessments to find out if students have mastered the material written in the new standards. More than 45 states have or are developing scholastic benchmarks.