Goals 2000: Summary & End

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  • 0:01 Educational Reform
  • 1:12 Eight Goals
  • 4:09 Impact
  • 5:40 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

There was a time when the federal government really didn't have much to do with education. But Goals 2000 changed all that, as it laid out national educational goals. In this lesson, we'll examine what those goals were and the impact they had.

Educational Reform

The year 2000 was a historic year. A new century and a new millennium started, and in the years leading up to it, many people reevaluated their lives and began to think about how to make the year 2000 and beyond even better than it had been before.

The government was no exception. Starting in 1989, the United States government began to evaluate the educational system and to think about what to do as the new millennium approached. The Bush Administration convened an educational summit with experts in the field to talk about setting national educational goals.

Five years later, in 1994, President Clinton signed into law the Goals 2000, also called the Educate America Act, which gave the federal government a role in education for the first time. Until then, education had only been state- and local-based. But Goals 2000 outlined eight federal goals for schools in America and offered federal money to schools who agreed to implement the goals.

Let's look closer at the eight goals of the Educate America Act and its impact on American education.

Eight Goals

As we mentioned, the Educate America Act offered eight basic goals for schools to target in the six years leading up to the dawn of the new millennium. The goals said that by the year 2000:

1. Every child will start school ready to learn.

Many students, especially those in lower class neighborhoods, started kindergarten behind their peers. They did not have the foundation necessary to learn to read and write or do basic math. The Educate America Act opened the door for pre-school programs for all children to prepare them for school.

2. High school graduation rate will be at least 90%.

Throughout the later part of the 20th century, high school enrollment increased, but the graduation rate (that is, the percentage of students who actually graduated) decreased. The Educate America Act encouraged schools to do something to raise their graduation rates.

3. Schools will help students learn to use their minds well.

This goal was about preparing students to be good citizens, workers, and learners in the economy. In addition to the general goal of helping students learn to use their mind well, this goal also specifically required that students demonstrate competency at the end of grades 4, 8, and 12. This meant that many schools required that students take tests or put together portfolios in those years.

4. Teachers will have professional development opportunities.

In addition to setting goals about what students would do and receive, the Goals 2000 initiative also required that teachers have access to professional development to continue to improve their skills.

5. U.S. students will be the first in the world in science and mathematics.

When looking at world tests, the U.S. fell at science and math achievement in the second half of the 20th century. This goal was about regaining the lead in the world for STEM education, or education in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

6. Every adult American will be literate.

The goal of American education, according to the Act, was to help every adult in America develop the knowledge and skills necessary to be good citizens and to compete in a global economy. Literacy was key among those skills.

7. Schools will provide an environment conducive to learning.

This goal was about making sure that schools were free of drugs, violence, weapons, and other things that could make the school unsafe.

8. Schools will partner with parents to provide for the whole child.

Involving parents in their child's education was a goal in order to provide for not just the academic worth of children, but also their social and emotional needs. Essentially, this goal said that parental involvement was a key to a child's success.

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