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The Feds Speak Out on Education Trust Report---Or Do They?

Question: Why is this press release enclosed in quotation marks? Is Paige trying to keep his distance from Hickok?


Statement by Acting Deputy Secretary Gene Hickok in Response to Education Trust Reports on Teacher Quality and High School Dropout Data

December 22, 2003

Acting Deputy Secretary Gene Hickok today issued the following statement in response to a report by the Education Trust on the Department's role in collecting data on teacher quality and high school dropouts:

"I believe that the Department and Education Trust share the same mission: ensuring that all children, regardless of race, accent or zip code, receive a high-quality education. However, I strongly disagree with the conclusions of Education Trust’s two recent reports, Telling the Whole Truth (or Not) About High School Graduation, and Telling the Whole Truth (or Not) About Highly Qualified Teachers.

"The Department of Education recognizes the importance of data collection because it impacts how accountable the education system is to its customers—the students and parents of America. Thanks to the No Child Left Behind Act, a light is being shined upon every state in the nation about the quality of every child’s education, including the qualifications of every teacher. Thanks to the vigorous data collection efforts in this Department, parents now know whether their child’s teacher is highly qualified—information to which they have a right. This simple concept is actually quite revolutionary. Prior to No Child Left Behind, parents merely assumed that all teachers were qualified.

"We have worked diligently, conscientiously and daily with the states on their data collection efforts. We mean business: no state has gotten a pass, and we have enforced these provisions in the most direct possible way by placing conditions on states’ funding if their data was missing or incomplete. We are monitoring the states to be sure they meet the requirements set on their grant awards.

"These data empower parents to hold their school systems and states accountable, which is why we have treated this information with such importance and urgency. Any conclusion otherwise is misinformed and, quite simply, wrong. While we always welcome outside scrutiny of the Department’s work, sadly it seems others find it much easier to throw bricks than to be constructive and build the house.

"Drop-out data collection has been an issue for years because no state collects the data the same way. Recognizing that this data issue has been a Gordian knot, Secretary Paige last week announced the awarding of a contract to the National Institute of Statistical Sciences (NISS) for convening a group of experts to review the methods for reporting high school dropouts and on-time graduates. The panel will meet in early January and is expected to issue a report in the spring. We greatly look forward to hearing their concrete recommendations so that we can help all students graduate from high school."

U. S. Department of Education, press release


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