Summary of Goals 2000: Educate America Act

The Goals 2000: Educate America Act (P.L. 103-227) was signed into law on March 31, 1994. The Act provides resources to states and communities to ensure that all students reach their full potential. It is based on the premise that students will reach higher levels of achievement when more is expected of them. Congress has appropriated $105 million for Goals 2000 for fiscal year 1994. First-year funds became available to states July 1, 1994. In the first year, individual states will submit applications describing the process by which the state will develop a school improvement plan, make subgrants to local schools, as well as grant awards for preservice and professional development.

Goals 2000 establishes a framework in which to identify world-class academic standards, to measure student progress, and to provide the support that students may need to meet the standards.

The Act codified in law the six original education goals concerning school readiness, school completion, student academic achievement, leadership in math and science, adult literacy, and safe and drug-free schools. It added two new goals encouraging teacher professional development and parental participation. The National Education Goals as stated in the Act (Sec. 102) are the following:

"By the Year 2000 -

  1. All children in America will start school ready to learn.

  2. The high school graduation rate will increase to at least 90 percent.

  3. All students will leave grades 4, 8, and 12 having demonstrated competency over challenging subject matter including English, mathematics, science, foreign languages, civics an government, economics, the arts, history, and geography, and every school in America will ensure that all students learn to use their minds well, so they may be prepared for responsible citizenship, further learning, and productive employment in our nation's modern economy.

  4. United States students will be first in the world in mathematics and science achievement.

  5. Every adult American will be literate and will possess the knowledge and skills necessary to compete in a global economy and exercise the rights and responsibilities of citizenship.

  6. Every school in the United States will be free of drugs, violence, and the unauthorized presence of firearms and alcohol and will offer a disciplined environment conducive to learning.

  7. The nation's teaching force will have access to programs for the continued improvement of their professional skills and the opportunity to acquire the knowledge and skills needed to instruct and prepare all American students for the next century.

  8. Every school will promote partnerships that will increase parental involvement and participation in promoting the social, emotional, and academic growth of children."

The Act establishes a National Education Standards and Improvement Council to examine and certify national and state content, student performance, opportunity-to-learn standards, and assessment systems voluntarily submitted by states. The movement to develop voluntary national standards has already begun. The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics has developed standards. The U.S. Department of Education is funding development of standards for the arts, civics and government, English language arts, foreign languages, geography, history, and science. These standards will identify what all students should know and be able to do to live and work in the 21st century.

Goals 2000 also creates a National Skill Standards Board to facilitate development of rigorous occupational standards. The Board will identify broad occupational clusters and create a system of standards, assessment, and certification for each cluster. The skills certificate will give students the portable, industry-recognized credentials described in the School-to-Work Opportunities Act of 1994 that indicate mastery of skills in specific occupational areas.

Just as school-to-work transition is an umbrella concept for initiatives such as tech prep, youth apprenticeship, career academies, and the like, the Goals 2000: Educate America Act is an even larger umbrella that encompasses school-to-work transition and other school reform efforts. In short, Goals 2000 will fund systemic reform at the state and local levels and will provide a framework within which to organize all state and federally funded education programs.

The School-to-Work Opportunities Act of 1994 requires states to coordinate school-to-work plans with the educational reforms they are planning with Goals 2000 and other funds. (States may submit a single application for funds under both acts.) Both acts involve restructuring, rescheduling, and rethinking educational practices. Both acts are intended to change the ways teachers teach and students learn. Thus, the need for coordination between activities under both acts is apparent. Additionally, state plans will have to show how School-to-Work Opportunities Act activities are coordinated with the activities of these other federal programs:

Local program leaders will also need to consider how activities being carried out in the community through these federal funds can be coordinated with school-to-work efforts.


Excerpted with permission from:
Paris, K. (1994). A leadership model for planning and implementing change for school-to-work transition (pp. 22-25). Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin-Madison, Center on Education and Work.

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