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Urban Schools' Group Adopts Six National Goals

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The board of directors of the Council of Great City Schools last week adopted a set of six sweeping goals that are similar to the national goals developed by President Bush and the nation's governors, but geared to the specific characteristics and needs of urban students.

The 45 districts belonging to the group, which educates some 12 percent of all U.S. schoolchildren and even greater proportions of minority students, have agreed to work to meet the goals by the year 2000.

"But in order to make the kind of progress we have agreed on, additional investments will have to be made at all levels of government," said Milton Bins, the group's deputy director.

The goals, he said, will serve as an accountability mechanism for lawmakers, and members understand that "there will be consequences" if the goals are not met. "It will not be open-ended as in the past," he said.

The council will also issue an annual "report card" to track the progress of member districts toward reaching the goals. That report may be timed to coincide with the annual release of the U.S. Education Department's "wall chart" of education indicators for the states, and will complement the federal effort with a district-level view of progress, said the council's executive director, Samuel Husk.

Although the districts have not agreed on the format or statistics to be used in the annual report card, Mr. Husk said, it most likely will contain information "that will put the heat on" districts that are lagging on various indicators.

The six goals each include a variety of complementary "objectives," as well as a suggested set of indicators that could be used to measure progress toward meeting them.

The goals are that:

In support of high expectations for all learners, urban-school students will increase their achievement levels to at least the national average.

The objectives under this goal include closing the gaps in achievement among students from differing racial, ethnic, cultural, and socioeconomic backgrounds, and improving the distribution of standardized test scores across all four quartiles.

All urban children will start school ready to learn.

Urban schools will increase their graduation rates so they are comparable to the national average.

Graduates will be adequately prepared to enter higher education, pursue career opportunities, and exercise their responsibilities as citizens.

Urban schools will be adequately staffed with qualified teachers who are culturally and racially sensitive and who reflect the racial characteristics of their students.

Urban schools will be free of drugs and alcohol, students will be well-nourished and healthy, and buildings will be well-maintained and safe.


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