Karla Denny, Director, Communications and Recognition Programs, 785-296-4876
February 20, 2008
The following was released by the U.S. Department of Education. For more information, please contact: Casey Ruberg, Samara Yudof
Topeka/U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings and Kansas Commissioner of Education Alexa Posny today hosted an education policy roundtable with state legislators, educators and business leaders at the Kansas Department of Education in Topeka, Kan. In her opening remarks, Secretary Spellings commended the State's progress in student achievement in grades 3-8 reading and math under No Child Left Behind, especially noting large gains among students with disabilities and low-income students. Secretary Spellings also announced a $947,069 School Improvement Grant for Kansas to help turn around low-performing schools and help Kansas take a greater role in developing and delivering comprehensive leadership and technical assistance to reform schools and districts that are not making Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP).
"Six years after No Child Left Behind changed the education game in this nation, we can be proud of where it has brought us. The law's core principles now guide our conversation on education. Now all 50 states and the District of Columbia have assessment systems, report disaggregated data and target federal resources to serve their neediest students," said Secretary Spellings. "Kansas has done great work developing assessments that serve all students, including Limited English Proficient students and those with disabilities, and now is the time to build on the momentum."
At the roundtable, Secretary Spellings discussed a new tool recently released by the U.S. Department of Education, Mapping Kansas' Educational Progress 2008, which provides a comparative look at the State's key No Child Left Behind indicators. Kansas is making gains under No Child Left Behind with 88 percent of schools making adequate yearly progress (AYP), including 95 percent of Title I schools; student achievement up in all grades 3-8; and achievement gaps shrinking in all grades between black and white students and between white and Hispanic students.
Secretary Spellings also noted opportunities for improvement that could help build on Kansas' progress and support further innovation such as strengthening its charter school laws to improve educational options for families. Kansas is also facing a teacher shortage with 36 percent of teachers eligible to retire in the next five years. President Bush's FY 2009 budget request would increase funding for the Teacher Incentive Fund to $200 million to help reward teachers and principals for making progress in challenging school environments.
Secretary Spellings also emphasized the need to equip every child with a highly qualified education and that as a nation we must find ways to address now consensus areas such as growth models to allow schools to measure individual student performance over time; a more nuanced accountability system to distinguish between schools missing performance goals across the board and those who come within range; take more aggressive steps to address and improve high school graduation rates; ensure that more eligible students are taking advantage of free tutoring; and do a better job of recruiting and preparing good teachers and getting them in to schools where they are needed most.
Last month, Secretary Spellings marked the sixth anniversary of No Child Left Behind with President Bush in Chicago, where he charged her with visiting States to discuss how the Federal government can work together with States to help them move forward under No Child Left Behind. Following her visit to Kansas, Secretary Spellings this week will continue the dialogue on No Child Left Behind and priorities for 2008 with a visit to Jefferson City, Mo.