October 19, 1999 | News Releases on Education
WASHINGTON, OCT. 19, 1999-The House of Representatives is scheduled to vote this week on the Academic Achievement for All Act, or "Straight A's." This legislation would give interested states and school districts maximum flexibility to administer up to 14 federal education programs, provided they improve the academic performance of their students. The Heritage Foundation today released the following statement on "Straight A's" by Senior Education Policy Analyst Nina Shokraii Rees:
"Straight A's is a radical departure from federal micromanagement of education and has the potential, like welfare reform before it, to achieve dramatic results. Simply put, Straight A's is a contract between the federal government, and states or local school districts. In exchange for flexibility to spend their federal education dollars as they see fit, state or local education officials must produce higher academic achievement. In short, Straight A's is a blueprint for making sure every dollar spent on education is a dollar spent boosting academic achievement."
"Straight A's is designed to reproduce in all 50 states the success of the Texas Accountability system. A recent report by the Council of Great City Schools found that of 11 school districts nationwide, Houston and Fort Worth had done the most to close the achievement gap between white and minority students. According to the National Education Goals Panel, a watchdog group, Texas ranks first along with North Carolina in performance. As standards have risen in Texas, the number of students passing every part of the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills Test has increased from 53 percent in 1995 to 78 percent in 1999.
"When the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) released the results of its writing test in September, it found Texas eighth-graders had the fourth-highest scores in the country, and the state's African-American and Hispanic students were among the highest-scoring in the nation. Similar achievements were reported earlier on the NAEP math test. So significant is Texas' achievement that Kati Haycock of the left-leaning Education Trust told 'NBC Nightly News' (Sept. 2, 1999) that "when you look at the data, which is what we do as an organization, you can't help but say … something very important is going on there."
"Straight A's also reflects what leading governors want from Washington. As California Gov. Gray Davis said on NBC's 'Meet the Press' recently, "we need to have the flexibility to apply those resources where we think they could best be used." Earlier this year, Davis received a waiver to spend California's share of federal class-size-reduction funding on other state goals. Straight A's would allow all states to do this without having to wait for a federal waiver.