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U.S. Education Flying High, AASA Executive Director Illustrates at 1st General Session

Drawing on reported data from the U.S. Department of Education, the National Assessment of Educational Progress and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, AASA’s executive director used his remarks at the 1st General Session Thursday afternoon to portray an American public school system performing at its highest level.

Daniel Domenech used his customary opening presentation at the start of the 2020 AASA National Conference on Education in San Diego to demonstrate the positive growth of schooling nationwide. He titled the presentation “American Education Today is the Best That It’s Ever Been.”

(Find his full set of statistical slides.)

He pulled together a series of informative bar charts and graphs with trend lines from the recent past to show the significant growth in areas such as the percentage of adults with a high school diploma, the growth in reading performance among racial and ethnic subgroups, the decline in school dropouts over a 40-year period and growth among those gaining at least a bachelor’s degree on the postsecondary level.

Domenech acknowledged significant work remains to equalize academic outcomes among the various student subgroupings with fewer than three-fourths of Native Americans and students with disabilities graduating high school on schedule compared to 91 percent of white students.

Poverty, he said, was the single biggest factor that inhibits student academic growth and he called for greater support by government agencies to address the out-of-school factors that prevent the nation as a whole from moving further up the international comparison rankings.

He ended with a reference to the burgeoning AASA Leadership Network. Functioning as AASA’s professional development division, the network now runs nearly 36 certification and cohort programs that build the knowledge and capacity of local school system leaders to sustain the progress and narrow the achievement gaps. (He provided a full rundown of the association’s Leadership Network in a report to the Governing Board one day prior.)

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