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Goals 2000: How Are We Doing?

So how much progress have U.S. schools made toward the eight goals established by the National Education Goals Panel? Education World takes a look at the progress the nation's schools have made toward each goal. Then we focus on success stories in three states: Learn how Maryland has increased the percentage of high school graduates, how Oklahoma has increased the number of appropriately credentialed teachers in its schools, and how Georgia has increased the percentage of high school graduates who move immediately on to postsecondary studies.

The nation's schools have made great progress toward achieving the National Education Goals set for the year 2000 -- but they have a long way to go to reach the goals in the allotted time.

That's the clear, basic message in The 1998 National Education Goals Report: Building a Nation of Learners, a document recently released by the U.S. Department of Education. That report tells how schools are progressing toward achieving their goals. The report evaluates changes in eight areas since 1990.

Before reading about ways certain states have progressed toward specific goals, study the eight goals for 2000 and examine the progress in schools nationwide.


Goal 1: Ready to Learn
By the year 2000, all children will start school ready to learn.

In this area, the nation has made excellent progress:

  • The proportion of infants born with one or more of four health risks has decreased.
  • The percentage of 2-year-olds who have been fully immunized against preventable childhood diseases has increased.
  • The percentage of families who are reading and telling stories to their children on a regular basis has increased.

Goal 2: School Completion
By the year 2000, the high school graduation rate will increase to at least 90 percent.

Nine states have increased the high school completion rate among young adults. In 1997, 86 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds nationwide had a high school credential, and 15 states met the goal of having a 90 percent or higher state completion rate.

Goal 3: Student Achievement and Citizenship
By the year 2000, all students will leave grades 4, 8, and 12 having demonstrated competency over challenging subject matter, including English, mathematics, science, foreign languages, civics and government, economics, arts, history, and geography, and every school in America will ensure that all students learn to use their minds well, so they may be prepared for responsible citizenship, further learning, and productive employment in our Nation's modern economy.

On the plus side, the percentages of students who are proficient in mathematics have risen in grades 4, 8, and 12. In contrast, the percentage of students who are proficient in reading has declined in grade 12 and not changed significantly in grades 4 and 8.

Goal 4: Teacher Education and Professional Development
By the year 2000, the Nation's teaching force will have access to programs for the continued improvement of their professional skills and the opportunity to acquire the knowledge and skills needed to instruct and prepare all American students for the next century.

The percentage of secondary school teachers who hold a degree in their main teaching assignment has decreased. The only element of the goal in which significant progress has been made is in the number of states offering formal induction/mentoring programs to new teachers. Seventeen states have improved in that area.

Goal 5: Mathematics and Science
By the year 2000, United States students will be the first in the world in mathematics and science achievement.

The proportion of college degrees awarded in math and science has risen. That is true for all students, including minority and female students.

Goal 6: Adult Literacy and Lifelong Learning
By the year 2000, every adult American will be literate and will possess the knowledge and skills necessary to compete in a global economy and exercise the rights and responsibilities of citizenship.

There have been areas of decline in national performance toward this goal:

  • Fewer adults with a high school diploma or less (who need additional training the most) have been participated in adult education, compared to those who have postsecondary education.
  • The gap between the percentages of white and black high school graduates who complete a college degree has grown larger.

Goal 7: Safe, Disciplined, and Alcohol- and Drug-Free Schools
By the year 2000, every school in the United States will be free of drugs, violence, and the unauthorized presence of firearms and alcohol and will offer a disciplined environment conducive to learning.

On the plus side, the percentage of students who report that they have been threatened or injured at school has decreased. Yet the following trends also exist:

  • Student drug use has become more widespread.
  • The percentage of students who report that someone offered them drugs at school has increased.
  • The percentage of public school teachers reporting that they were threatened or injured at school has increased.
  • The percentage of secondary school teachers who report that disruptions in their classrooms interfered with their teaching has increased.

Goal 8: Parental Participation
By the year 2000, every school will promote partnerships that will increase parental involvement and participation in promoting the social, emotional, and academic growth of children.

Maine, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Vermont have ranked among the highest-performing states on measures of progress toward this goal.


Certain states have used strategies that have resulted in success in achieving or progressing toward one or more of the eight national goals. Their stories are told in Promising Practices: Progress Toward the Goals, 1998, a companion report to "The National Education Goals Report." In the "Promising Practices" report, the National Education Goals Panel (NEGP) chose one indicator for each of the eight goals and asked which states have made the most progress in that area and why. Several of those states' stories follow.


Which states have increased the percentage of 18- to 24-year-olds who have a high school credential (based on data from 1990 and 1996)?

Maryland increased its high school completion rate from 87 percent in 1990 to 95 percent in 1996. It is one of the most improved states, according to this indicator. A group of new programs seems to have boosted Maryland's performance.

  • The Maryland School Performance Program is a statewide school and reform program that requires dropout data to be reported. At each school, improvement teams analyze state and local performance to devise school improvement strategies. Each school and school system reports to the public and the legislature on dropout rates, creating an incentive for improvement.

  • In addition, Maryland's Tomorrow Program helps students who have trouble graduating. It provides year-round supplemental instruction, support, case management, and enrichment to at-risk youths.

  • Another program, Tech Prep, is a group of high school courses that prepare students for postsecondary technical schooling and beginning careers. This program often helps keep in high school students who do not have traditional academic focus but who are focused on careers.


Which states have increased teacher preparation, as measured by the percentage of public secondary teachers who hold undergraduate or graduate degrees and teaching certificates in their main teaching assignments (based on data from 1991 and 1994)?

Oklahoma was the only state that has increased the percentage of public secondary school teachers with certificates in their main teaching assignments. Dr. Floyd Coppedge, the state's secretary of education, says the improvement occurred because state officials realized the need for a "competency-based approach to teacher training, rather than a system driven by credit hours and courses."

  • A report on teacher preparation led to passage in Oklahoma's state legislature of a law that created the Oklahoma Commission for Teacher Preparation in 1992.

  • In 1994, a second report recommended key strategies regarding "recruitment, retention, and reentry; pre-service teacher preparation; in-service teacher professional development; administrator preparation; licensure and certification; trailblazer schools and a model learning program; assessment; and career education."

  • In 1995, the legislature passed a law that made "accreditation of teacher preparation programs contingent upon the program being competency-based." The law also required development of a new competency-based assessment for teachers.


Which states have increased the percentages of high school graduates who immediately enroll in two- or four-year colleges (based on data from 1992 and 1996)?

According to Sue Sloop, staff member of the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, the percentage of high school graduates in Georgia enrolling in college has increased from 54 percent in 1992 to 56 percent in 1996. She also points out a 25 percent increase in community college enrollment from 1990 to 1994.

Instrumental in Georgia's increased postsecondary enrollment is HOPE, a scholarship program instituted in 1993. HOPE scholarships go to any Georgia high school students who earn at least a B average. The scholarships provide free tuition to any state institution of higher learning. So far, more than 250,000 students have benefited from the program, which is funded through the state's lottery.


The reports are available on-line at Copies are also available at no charge from:

National Education Goals Panel
1255 22nd Street NW, Suite 502
Washington, DC 20037
PHONE: 202-724-0015
FAX: 202-632-0957
E-MAIL: [email protected]


National Education Goals This Web site contains all sorts of information about the National Education Goals 2000. It includes access to publications and products related to the goals.

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Article by Sharon Cromwell
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