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November 28, 2012 02:37 pm

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While the U.S. Congress must confront crucial economic issues this month, every school, district, and state leader must make critical decisions in the next two years involving digital learning that will shape education for decades, according to a new report from the Alliance for Excellent Education. The report, The Nation’s Schools Are Stepping Up to Higher Standards, identifies four key challenges that public school district leaders must systemically address in the next two years and otlines the essential elements for developing a comprehensive digital strategy.

Under the Obama administration, the School Improvement Grants (SIG) program, which targets the nation’s lowest-performing schools, has allocated up to $2 million per school at more than 1,300 schools, approximately 40 percent of which are high schools. The data released on Nov. 19th by the U.S. Department of Education provides the first overview of performance for the first group of schools after one year of implementing the SIG program. While acknowledging that it is too soon to establish a clear connection between School Improvement Grants (SIG) and school performance, the data shows “positive momentum and progress” in many schools that received funds through the SIG program.

Although President Obama was unable to shepherd a rewrite of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act through the U.S. Congress during his first term, he did encourage states to enact education reforms through the Race to the Top competition and provide additional flexibility under NCLB through waivers. However, even though Obama also made investments in education one of the key prongs of his economic plan, the percentage of Americans who believe he can improve education during his second term dropped slightly—from 71 percent in 2008 to 68 percent in 2012—according to a post-election poll by USA Today and Gallup.

Read our full e-newsletter, “Straight A’s,” here. To receive our bi-weekly newsletter in your inbox, emailJAmos@all4ed.org.

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