Accountability Strategy for Turning Around Low-Performing Schools

May 3, 2000

Today, in Owensboro, Kentucky, President Clinton will visit Audubon Elementary School to kick off his School Reform Tour and to highlight the Clinton-Gore agenda of investing more in our schools and demanding more from them. Audubon Elementary School is an award-winning school in the Daviess County School District. Although two-thirds of its students are in poverty, Audubon ranks 18th in the state in student achievement. The President will highlight Audubon to illustrate how an agenda of high standards, real accountability, and proven investments can raise student achievement and turn around failing schools across the country. In a speech to Kentucky educators and policymakers, the President will announce that he is directing the U.S. Department of Education to take new executive actions to help states and localities turn around failing schools. The President will also call on Congress to enact his $250 million Education Accountability Fund, to help communities turn around failing schools or shut them down. And citing the success of Audubon and other schools in Kentucky, he will remind Americans that with the right tools and expectations, every child can learn.

PRESIDENT SIGNS EXECUTIVE ORDER ON TURNING AROUND FAILING SCHOOLS. The President will announce he is signing an Executive Order that directs the Department of Education to compile and publish key data on low-performing schools across the country and help states fix those schools. The Order directs Secretary of Education Richard Riley to: 1) help states and districts turn around low-performing schools, by providing technical assistance and disseminating research; 2) make federal education programs more responsive to low-performing schools; 3) submit an annual education accountability report that identifies trends in low-performing schools, the resources they are receiving to turn themselves around, and what strategies are most effective; and 4) send teams of monitors into up to 15 states each year to make sure states are complying with accountability requirements and help them get results.

PRESIDENT HIGHLIGHTS KENTUCKY'S ACCOUNTABILITY STRATEGY AND REFORM RESULTS. Speaking ten years after Kentucky's landmark education reform legislation was passed, President Clinton will praise the state for its leadership on standards-based reform and accountability. Kentucky has successfully intervened to improve many of its low-performing schools, by providing critical resources to offer extended learning, teacher training, expanded technology and literacy initiatives. After having been identified as performing below expectations on state assessments, Audubon Elementary today ranks 18th statewide in student performance among elementary schools. Since 1994, even with two-thirds of its students in poverty, Audubon has boosted the percentage of students scoring at a level of "proficient" and "distinguished" on state assessments from 12 percent to 57 percent in writing; 5 percent to 70 percent in reading; and 0 percent to 64 percent in science. All across Kentucky, some of the state's highest performing schools are high-poverty and former low-performing schools.

AN AGENDA OF STANDARDS, ACCOUNTABILITY AND INVESTMENT. Since taking office, President Clinton and Vice President Gore have made accountability and investment in proven strategies the core of their education reform agenda. In 1994, the President made standards a core part of federal education policy, through Goals 2000 and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Since the President took office in 1992, the federal investment in elementary and secondary education has nearly doubled. Last year, the President also proposed and Congress enacted a $134 million Accountability Fund, which provides funds to states and school districts to turn around failing schools and gives students in a failing school the right to choose a higher-performing public school. Today, the President will call on Congress to send him a true reform bill that includes the education accountability measures he has proposed – require states and school districts to turn around failing schools or shut them down, make sure teachers know the subject they're teaching, end social promotion by giving students the help they need to meet high standards, adopt sound, fair discipline codes, and give parents school report cards. He will also call on Congress to pass an education budget that invests in reducing class size, strengthening teacher quality, expanding after school and summer school, repairing and modernizing schools and other key priorities. Only by investing more and demanding more, the President will point out, can we make school reform work for all our students.

Owensboro, Kentucky

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