Here are highlights of President Bush’s education agenda:
- Annual Tests: States would be required to test all students in grades 3-8 in reading and mathematics as a condition of receiving federal Title I aid.
- Vouchers: In disadvantaged schools that failed to make adequate yearly progress for three consecutive years, students could use Title I funds to transfer to a higher-performing public or private school, or to pay for supplemental educational services.
- Reading: States that established a reading program “anchored in scientific research” in grades K-2 would be eligible for grants under a new Reading First initiative. An Early Reading First initiative would provide grants for preschool programs, including Head Start.
- Technology: E-rate money and technology-grant funds would be consolidated and distributed to schools through states and local districts based on need.
- Charter States and Districts: Like the charter schools now operating across the country, states and districts would be allowed to receive greater autonomy in using federal education aid in exchange for increased accountability. Specifically, states and districts would be allowed to enter into a “charter agreement” with the Department of Education to waive the federal regulations placed on catagorical grant programs in exchange for presenting a five-year performance agreement.
- Rewards: High-performing states that narrowed the achievement gap and improved overall student achievement would be rewarded financially. Schools that made the greatest progress in improving the achievement of disadvantaged students would be rewarded with “No Child Left Behind” bonuses.
- Punishments: The secretary of education would have the authority to reduce the federal funding available to a state for administrative expenses if the state failed to meet its performance objectives.
- School Choice: The secretary of education would award grants for innovative efforts to expand parental choice.
- Teacher Quality: States and districts would be given flexibility in the use of federal aid to allow them to focus more of their efforts on improving teacher quality.
School Safety: Funding for schools to promote safety and drug-abuse prevention during and after school would be increased. States would be allowed to give consideration to religious organizations on the same basis as other nongovernmental groups when awarding grants for after-school programs.