In recent days, we have seen shocking acts of violence in schools across our nation. Laura and I are praying for the victims and their families, and we extend our sympathies to them and to the communities that have been devastated by these attacks.
I have asked Secretary of Education Spellings and Attorney General Gonzales to host a conference on school safety this Tuesday. We will bring together teachers, parents, students, administrators, law enforcement officials, and other experts to discuss the best ways to keep violence out of our schools. Our goal is clear: Children and teachers should never fear for their safety when they enter a classroom.
As we work to keep our classrooms safe, we must also ensure that the children studying there get a good education. I believe every child can learn. So when I came to Washington, I worked with Republicans and Democrats to pass the No Child Left Behind Act, and I was proud to sign it into law. The theory behind this law is straightforward: We expect every school in America to teach every student to read, write, add, and subtract.
We are measuring progress, and giving parents the information they need to hold their schools accountable. Local schools remain under local control. The federal government is asking for demonstrated results in exchange for the money we send from Washington. Thanks to this good law, we are leaving behind the days when schools just shuffled children from grade to grade, whether they learned anything or not.
Earlier this week, I visited the Department of Education, where I was briefed on our progress under the No Child Left Behind Act. The most recent national tests show encouraging results. In reading, nine-year olds have made larger gains in the past five years than at any point in the previous 28 years. In math, nine-year olds and 13-year olds earned the highest scores in the history of the test. In both reading and math, African-American and Hispanic students are scoring higher, and they are beginning to close the achievement gap with their white peers.
The No Child Left Behind Act also gives parents more options. If your child's school consistently fails to show progress, you can get free intensive tutoring for your child, or transfer your child to a better public school. By shining a spotlight on schools that are not performing, and offering parents and children a way out, the No Child Left Behind Act is ushering in a new era of accountability and choice. And this is putting America's children on the path to a better life.
The No Child Left Behind Act has brought good progress, yet we still have a lot of work to do. So I will be talking more about education in the coming months, especially as we discuss the reauthorization of this law next year. I will focus on three areas where we can improve. First, we must improve teacher quality, so that every child has an excellent teacher. Second, we must give more options to parents whose children are trapped in struggling schools. And third, we need to bring the same high standards and accountability of the No Child Left Behind Act to our high schools, so that every high school graduate has the tools he or she needs to go to college and to get a good-paying job.
When we set expectations high, America's children will rise to meet them. And by helping our children succeed, we're creating a brighter future for them and for our Nation.