|AAE Federal Update December 13, 2010|
|posted by: Alix | December 13, 2010, 05:00 AM|
U.S. Falling Behind According to New International Rankings
American Students are falling behind according to new international rankings released this week. The Programme for International Student Assessment or PISA is a system of international assessments that measures 15-year-olds' performance in reading literacy, math literacy, and science literacy every three years. In 2009, the U.S. and 64 other countries and education systems participated in PISA with a specific focus on reading literacy. The scores have illustrated some interesting and disturbing trends for student performance in key subjects compared to European and Asian students.
Among the findings:
About 470,000 students took the PISA exams in 2009. They are considered the most thorough and reliable international tests, especially in a new global economic market.
On average, the U.S. spends more per student than in other countries. Among the 2009 PISA study participants, only Luxembourg spent more per student. The report notes that countries like Estonia and Poland perform at about the same level as the United States, while spending less than half the amount per student.
"I think we have to invest in reform, not in the status quo," Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said. "The mediocre performance of America's students is a problem we cannot afford to accept and yet cannot afford to ignore."
Congressman Kline Becomes Chairman of House Education Labor Committee
Minnesota's Congressman John Kline (R) was this week named chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee for the 112th congress. Having been first elected to congress in 2002, Kline is currently the ranking Republican member.
Kline released a statement following the official decision:
"Job creation and American competitiveness are vital national priorities. As Chairman, I will ensure they are at the forefront of the Education and Labor Committee agenda. I am humbled by the decision of my colleagues to allow me to lead this panel, and I am eager to move forward with an agenda that fulfills our pledge to create a smaller, more accountable federal government. My goal for the federal programs and agencies that oversee our schools and workplaces is to provide certainty and simplicity. We must ensure federal red tape does not become the enemy of innovation, and that federal mandates do not become roadblocks on the path to reform."
Congress Passes Child Nutrition Legislation
Last week during the lame-duck session of congress, the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act was passed and was signed into law this afternoon by President Obama.
The bill will provide funding for school meals across the country, including plans to improve nutrition standards, access, safety, and education associated with healthy meals.
Good nutrition for children has been a priority of the Obama administration since he took office. The legislation is the center piece of the First Lady's "Let's Move!" campaign and is being hailed as a victory for the administration.
Republican Congressional leaders were unimpressed. "Republicans are committed to extending and improving child nutrition programs in a fiscally responsible way. Unfortunately, once again, the Hobson's choice Democratic leaders forced through Congress blocked any chance of improving child nutrition assistance without saddling our children and communities with bigger government, higher spending, and more mandates," said Congressman Kline.
U.S. Graduation Rates on the Rise
According to a new report released by America's Promise Alliance, Civic Enterprises, and John Hopkins University's Every Graduates Center, which often references Institute of Education Sciences (IES)-funded work, The U.S. is reducing the number of high school dropouts across the country.
The number of high school dropout factories in the U.S. also fell from about 2,000 to 1,750 high schools from 2002 to 2008, Secretary Duncan said at the release of America's Promise Alliance Report.
Among the common elements of success according to the plan: strong leadership with clear graduation rate goals; multi-sector collaboration guided by data; commitment to innovation and continuous improvement; technical assistance for evidence-based solutions; and raising expectations.
The report will serve as evidence that gains can be made, even in urban and low-income areas, according to Duncan. "The conclusion of this study is that schools, districts, and states have demonstrated high school graduation rates can increase significantly in the very communities where the dropout problem has been most severe," stated Duncan.
The full report can be found here.