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Improving K-12 Education

Thursday, February 3, 2005; Page A26

A Post editorial was incorrect in assuming that increased concentration on the upper grades means that we will stop paying attention to the initial No Child Left Behind reforms at the elementary and middle school levels ["High School Reform," Jan. 15].

The No Child Left Behind law committed this nation to a bold vision for a future in which all children, regardless of race, income or native language, have the chance to succeed in school and life. The law projected a 12-year horizon for every child across this nation to read and do math at grade level. The initial attention to the lower grades makes sense; focusing resources there prevents educational problems before they become much more costly, in both human and financial terms. Now that progress is being made at the lower grades, as is evident from assessments across the country, we must ensure that students are given the skills they need at the high school level as well.

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High schools aren't getting that job done adequately. One recent study showed that America's 15-year-olds scored below their counterparts in 23 other nations in math. In an increasingly competitive, global economy, 24th place will not do it. That's why the president has proposed the $1.5 billion High School Initiative: By extending the promise of No Child Left Behind into our high schools, we can make sure that all students graduate so that they can choose to go on to higher education with the skills they need to succeed or directly enter the 21st-century workforce, prepared for all its challenges.

MARGARET SPELLINGS

Secretary

Education Department

Washington


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