Summit goals not met

17th December 1999 at 00:00
TEN years after a highly publicised education summit set lofty goals for American schools to meet before the year 2000, not a single one of those goals has been achieved.

The National Education Summit was convened in 1989 by then-President George Bush and attended by the governors of all 50 states to give a sense of urgency to the budding educational movement.

Although a follow-up report to mark the 2000 deadline shows that more children are better prepared when they enter kindergarten, and better at maths in the lower grades, the report found that the nation is actually worse off in terms of improving teacher quality and ensuring school safety.

The percentage of teachers holding a college degree in the main subject they teach dropped from 66 to 63, and there was an increase in student use of illicit drugs.

The other targets - raising school completion rates, improving student achievement, enhancing adult literacy and expanding parental participation - all showed less progress than had been hoped. "Our mission is not complete," said Kentucky Governor Paul Patton. "But it is clear our goals have moved the US in the right direction."

In some states, the results were better. Twelve states reduced their high school drop-out rates, and 27 increased the percentage of students who are proficient in maths.

But the drop-out rate actually rose in 11 states. So did the university matriculation rate. Sixteen states have higher percentages of students who say they use marijuana, and teachers in 37 states report an increase in student disruptions in the classroom.

"We're not where we want to be by a long shot, and we have to pick up the pace," said Education Secretary Richard Riley.

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