Page:United States Statutes at Large Volume 110 Part 2.djvu/300

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110 STAT. 1321-153 PUBLIC LAW 104-134—APR. 26, 1996 (b) FINDINGS. — The Congress finds that— (1) experience has shown that the failure of the District of Columbia educational system has been due more to the failure to implement a plan than the failure to develop a plan; (2) national studies indicate that 50 percent of secondary school graduates lack basic literacy skills, and over 30 percent of the 7th grade students in the District of Columbia public schools drop out of school before graduating; (3) standard student assessments indicate only average performance for grade level and fail to identify individual students who lack basic skills, allowing too many students to graduate lacking these basic skills and diminishing the worth of a diploma; (4) experience has shown that successful schools have good community, parent, and business involvement; (5) experience has shown that reducing dropout rates in the critical middle and secondary school years requires individual student involvement and attention through such activities as arts or athletics; and (6) experience has shown that close coordination between educators and business persons is required to provide noncollege-bound students the skills necessary for employment, and that personal attention is vitally important to assist each student in developing an appropriate career path. SEC. 2853. DUTIES AND POWERS OF THE CONSENSUS COMMISSION. (a) PRIMARY RESPONSIBILITY. — The Board of Education and the Superintendent shall have primary responsibility for developing and implementing the long-term reform plan for education in the District of Columbia. (b) DUTIES. — The Consensus Commission shall— (1) identify any obstacles to implementation of the longterm reform plan and suggest ways to remove such obstacles; (2) assist in developing programs that— (A) ensure every student in a District of Columbia public school achieves basic literacy skills; (B) ensure every such student possesses the knowledge and skills necessary to think critically and communicate effectively by the completion of grade 8; and (C) lower the dropout rate in the District of Columbia public schools; (3) assist in developing districtwide assessments, including individual assessments, that identify District of Columbia public school students who lack basic literacy skills, with particular attention being given to grade 4 and the middle school years, and establish procedures to ensure that a teacher is made accountable for the performance of every such student in such teacher's class; (4) make recommendations to improve community, parent, and business involvement in District of Columbia public schools and public charter schools; (5) assess opportunities in the District of Columbia to increase individual student involvement and attention through such activities as arts or athletics, and make recommendations on how to increase such involvement; and