MR. CHAIRMAN, MEMBERS OF THE SUBCOMMITTEE. Thank you for the opportunity to appear before your Subcommittee today regarding the National Education Goals Panel's Fiscal Year 2001 budget request. My name is Ken Nelson and I am the Executive Director of the National Education Goals Panel.


The bipartisan Panel was established in 1990 following the historic Education Summit held in September 1989 at Charlottesville, Virginia. At that meeting, President Bush and the Nation's Governors established an accountability and reporting process for the nation and states to report on progress toward the achievement of the National Education Goals by the year 2000.

They believed that establishing National Education Goals would focus America's attention and resources on high academic performance of our students and our schools. But they also recognized that adopting National Goals would ultimately prove an empty gesture without monitoring and reporting on progress toward their achievement and without telling the American people and those in each state how well we are doing. Accordingly, the National Education Goals Panel was established and charged with measuring the nation and states' progress toward achieving the National Education Goals over ten years. In 1994, the National Education Goals Panel was established in law by the Goals 2000: Educate America Act, Public Law 103-227, as an independent agency in the Executive branch of the Federal government. Two additional Goals were added to the original six.

The bipartisan Panel is composed of 18 members: eight governors, appointed by the Chairperson of the National Governors' Association in consultation with its Vice-Chairman; two members of the U.S. Senate, designated by its Majority and Minority leaders; two Members of the U.S. House of Representatives, designated by its Majority and Minority leaders; four members of state legislatures appointed by the President of the National Conference of State Legislatures; and two senior-level Federal Executive Branch officials appointed by the President. The 1999 chair of the Panel was Paul Patton, Governor of Kentucky. The 2000 Chair is Tommy Thompson, Governor of Wisconsin.

The Panel's primary responsibilities are to: (1) monitor, analyze and report on National and State progress toward achieving the National Education Goals; (2) work with states to develop and implement high academic standards and assessments; (3) identify and report promising and effective practices at the state and local level and provide assistance to states and communities with their progress reports; and (4) build a bipartisan consensus for education improvement to achieve the Goals.

Strategic Performance Objectives for FY 2001

Monitor, Analyze and Report on National and State Progress Toward Goal Achievement

  • Publish two end-of-the-decade reports summarizing an assessment of 10 years of progress by the states and Nation toward achieving the Goals. These reports will include all available data points for all of the Goals and provide a grand summation of the decade's progress. These reports will be clearly understandable by the American public and policymakers.

  • Prepare specialized, but short, reports aimed at audiences concerned with individual Goals or specialized subject areas.

  • Implement strategies to improve the collection and use of data by policymakers, educators and the general public, including the use of electronic technology. These strategic recommendations will be developed and presented by a Measuring Success Task Force established in FY 2000 but continuing in FY 2001.

  • Analyze the national and state data to provide valid interpretations about progress toward Goal achievement and share that information with the public, educators and policymakers.

Work with States to Develop and Implement High Academic Standards and Assessments

  • Produce a profile of successful state and community activities on standards implementation that will provide guidance and feedback to other states as they develop and implement high academic standards and assessments.

  • Provide information and assistance for state and local policy-makers and the public on how to develop high academic standards.

  • Offer guidance to policy-makers and the public on assessment systems that can track student progress toward defined benchmarks in order to inform parents and educators and insure accountability for schools and school systems.

  • Develop and publish recommendations on the improvement of early childhood assessment.

Identify and Report Promising Practices and Provide Assistance on State Progress Reports

  • Identify and profile communities and states which exemplify high performance in student achievement.

  • Highlight those states and communities which are making significant progress toward realizing the National Education Goals.

  • Encourage state and local reporting of relevant data on system and student achievement.

  • Provide limited technical assistance to states on how they can improve their progress reports.

  • Work with other organizations to recognize those states which do an exemplary job of reporting to the public about system and student achievement.

Build a Bipartisan Consensus on Reforms and Strategies Necessary to Achieve the Goals

  • Work with all people and organizations interested in education improvement guided by national/state education goals, reporting and accountability.

  • Build on the bipartisan membership of the Panel to engage all governors, state legislators and others in significant education improvement efforts, guided by education goals and reporting.

  • Use the end of the decade as an opportunity to evaluate the effectiveness of setting education goals with measurable indicators, reporting on progress toward achieving them and the impact of the goals process on education improvement.

The Role of the Goals Panel

Meeting the challenges of improving education in the next century will require the involvement of all Americans: public officials, educators, parents, business and community leaders, and students. Becoming active participants in improving our ability to gauge and guide our education performance will enable us to improve the performance of our students and schools. One of the most important roles that the Goals Panel plays is encouraging and enabling collaborative efforts to improve education that are taking place at all levels of governance and in every community.

The Goals Panel informs decision-making. Citizens need accurate, reliable information to determine the strengths and weaknesses of their education systems and to make decisions that will allow those systems to perform at more ambitious levels. The Goals Panel will continue to help states and communities determine how well they are doing, where they would like to be, and what they will have to do to move their results in the desired direction.

Budget Request

At the time the Goals Panel became and independent agency on July 1, 1994, we were funded at $3,000,000 for fourth quarter FY94 and all of FY95. The National Education Goals Panel is asking for $2,350,000 for FY 2001. This budget request is divided into 4 distinct strategic performance objectives plus administration. They are: monitoring, analyzing and reporting on Goal achievement; working with states to develop and implement high academic standards; identifying and reporting promising and effective practices and assisting states and communities with their progress reports; and building a bipartisan consensus for education improvement to achieve the Goals.

We request $704 thousand to monitor, analyze and report on Goal achievement. Most of this money will be used for data collection and printing the annual reports.

We request $124 thousand to work with the states and communities on the development and implementation of high academic standards and assessments. This will provide for the necessary workshops, the identification and characterization of some case studies and the publication of their recommendations.

We request $74 thousand to identify, profile and share the examples of promising and effective practices of high performance schools on student achievement and to assist states and communities with their progress reports. This will enable us to convene states and communities at workshops where they and we can help each other to improve effective reporting of assessments and student achievement results.

We request $297 thousand to continue building bipartisan consensus by convening the Panel, the Working Group members and other resource groups; printing appropriate Goal-specific information; supporting the release of the annual Report; and providing information and outreach to the states and communities.

We request $1,150,800 for administration including personnel compensation and benefits; office space and the inter-agency support agreement; office equipment and supplies; and the transportation of materials.


Ten years ago, the White House and the Nation's Governors, later joined by Congress and State Legislators, began a reporting and accountability process to make the Nation's education system one of high performance. They agreed that by the end of the century the commitment made by policymakers, communities, educators, students, and parents should be turning those ambitious Goals into reality. A permanent foundation has been laid and considerable information has been gathered on progress, though it will require continued improvements before it can be considered complete in all areas.

In closing, let me state that the Panel is truly excited about our planned activities for FY 2001. We will continue to provide the President, the Secretary, the Congress, the Governors, State Legislators and the public with timely information on the Nation's and states' progress toward achieving the eight National Education Goals.

This completes my statement. I will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Ken Nelson

Executive Director, National Education Goals Panel

Ken Nelson was appointed director of the National Education Goals Panel in January 1994 with broad, bipartisan support. He came to the post with extensive local, state national leadership credentials and 20 years experience as a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives, always serving on the Education Committee.

For eight years Nelson chaired the House Education Appropriations Committee, where he chief-authored the passage of eight omnibus finance and education improvement bills. His legislative service earned national attention through such reform measures as performance-based graduation standards, technology initiatives, effective schools, academic incentives, school choice and charter schools. During this time Minnesota was the first state in the nation to offer school choice, post-secondary options and charter schools.

While in the legislature, Nelson worked closely with several education, government, and business organizations including the Education Commission of the States (ECS), the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), the National Governors' Association (NGA), National Alliance of Business, and the Business Roundtable.

Nelson is a former Lutheran clergyman who served an inner-city parish in Minneapolis and then became the Shepherd of the Streets for the Lutheran Church in America, an outreach and advocacy ministry for inner-city children and their families.

Ken Nelson grew up on a farm in westcentral Minnesota. His formal education started in a one-room schoolhouse. In 1991 he received a Bush Fellowship to pursue a Masters in Public Administration (awarded in 1993) from Harvard University with a combined study of education, business, and government methodologies for improving large public systems.

Some of Nelson's achievements and experience include:

  • Initiating, designing and managing a United Way public/private collaborative to deter inner-city youth in Minneapolis from gang activity.

  • Leading a delegation of business, government and education leaders to the USSR.

  • Speaking in a series of national lectures on "Transforming Education for the 21st Century Learner" sponsored by the Institute for Development of Education Activities.

  • Consulting with the Danforth Foundation, NGA, NCSL and ECS to establish a State Policymakers' Institute.

  • Volunteering in India and Ethiopia for the World Brotherhood Exchange.

  • Serving with the United States Army in Europe.

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