A Note from Gaston
Regardless of your political persuasion, I hope you have been heartened by the high priority President Barack Obama’s administration has placed on education reform. On many occasions since the election, our new president has spoken of the need to invest more resources in energy, health care and education, and I am eager for all of us at the College Board to expand our own commitment to strengthening education and to lend our support to the
I wanted to update you about the activities that the staff has undertaken regarding President Obama’s agenda. We have launched an intense outreach effort aimed at working directly and collaboratively with governors, chief state school officers and district superintendents as they formulate plans to use their federal stimulus funds. As you know, the president's stimulus package includes about $100 billion for education. While much of that money is earmarked for restoring cuts in state and local budgets and preserving teachers' and counselors' jobs, a significant portion of the funding can be used by states, districts and the secretary of education to improve the quality of teaching, learning and assessment in our schools. And the College Board is well-positioned to provide states and districts with information, ideas and tools that can help them achieve those goals.
For example, a pool of money called the “Race to the Top” fund will be provided to states on a competitive basis for use in raising standards and achievement within the 50 states. We are working with governors' offices as they consider various options for using those funds, identifying time-tested strategies that can support their reform goals. Further, we are working with the Council of Chief State School Officers, the National Governors Association and Achieve, a nonprofit education reform organization, to develop a common core set of content standards in math and English that states can adopt and that can raise standards and achievement for all of our nation's students.
In addition, we are awaiting the release of guidelines for the Department of Education's new “Invest in What Works and Innovation” fund, a $650 million pool of funding that will be awarded on a competitive basis to school districts and nonprofit organizations. We believe our college readiness tools — especially AP®, SpringBoard® and our professional development offerings — can be especially useful to districts as they look for new and innovative strategies to improve achievement and increase college readiness.
Finally, while not part of the stimulus package, we are eager to work with the administration as it develops a new program that is included in the FY10 budget: the $2.5 billion “Access and Completion Incentive” fund. This program is targeted at helping states devise innovative strategies to improve the college graduation rates for low-income students. Our many advocacy projects, including the Commission on Access, Admissions and Success in Higher Education and our National Office of Community College Initiatives, can help inform the direction of this new federal program.
This is both a challenging and exciting time for those of us concerned about the quality of U.S. education. The College Board stands ready to step forward and support the ambitious education reform agendas that are emerging at the federal level, as well as in states and school districts.