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Governor vows to end DOE ‘high risk’ status this year

fili@samoanews.com

Gov. Togiola Tulafono said in his State of the Territory Address on Monday that ASG remains committed to resolving the long standing federal “high risk” designation on the local Department of Education's funding and progress is being made on ASG's Corrective Action Plan (CAP).

HIGH RISK DESIGNATION

Togiola told lawmakers that ASG continues to deal with the high risk issue—in place now for several years—and “while we have made significant strides toward completing several of the recommendations contained in our Corrective Action Plan (CAP), there are still matters which we are striving to resolve and we have set this year as the year to finally close all of the items on ASG’s Corrective Action Plan.”

 USDOE director of Risk Management Service Philip A. Maestri wrote to the governor in June 2011, after the agency's site visit in April 2011, saying that although they are pleased to see ASG's progress in addressing the significant deficiencies in its administration of federal education funds they look forward to the rest of the CAP actions being taken.

In particular, Maestri says there are a “number of significant fiscal and operational deficiencies” that still need to be resolved — to ensure accountability for federal funds.

Togiola told lawmakers the USDOE  contingent “was impressed with our progress on our corrective action items," during last year's site visit, "but we will not rest until the high risk designation is finally and permanently removed.”

“Our reports have been timely, and we remain committed to seriously ending the designation which has plagued us for far too long with our education programs,” he said.

TEST SCORES

Togiola reported that test scores for local students “on the whole show incremental improvement.” For example, in 2011, “most significant improvements were in the areas of English Language Arts and Science with increases of four to five percentile points”.

“There has been no significant increase or decrease in the percentage of students graduating from high school that must take remedial courses at the local community college,” the governor said. “However, with the new approach of prioritizing programs at the school level, we can expect to see improvements.”

Of the 43 projects included in this years’ consolidated grant application to USDOE, 41 propose the use of core content labs within schools to improve student performance in Math, English, Social Studies and Science through the use of technology; and by “putting iPads or laptops in the hands of the teachers will allow them better access to resources, and reporting quickly on the progress of their students. We fully expect for this to happen this year.”

American Samoa’s consolidated grant application, comprised of close to $20 million in USDOE funding, was approved in advance of the deadline last year.

ASCC DEVELOPMENTS

The governor said the American Samoa Community College continues to pursue a Bachelor of Education program.

“Soon, the dream of being able to earn a baccalaureate degree without having to leave our island home will be a reality,” he said. “For individuals from families that cannot afford to send their kids off island, and for individuals who just prefer to pursue their degrees here at home for whatever reason, this development will provide a world of opportunity where none before existed.”

ASCC is currently offering 300 level courses, the equivalent of third-year college study. It reached a major milestone in 2011 when the accrediting body for junior colleges deemed the college eligible to offer 400 level courses, or four year college courses, limited to the bachelor of education program which is supported by a  $1.8 million grant over five years.

Meanwhile, ASCC continues its bid to offer a four year degree by January of 2013, although some students are poised to receive the first bachelor's degrees this May if all goes well, Togiola said.

Click on attachment to dowload complete text of the governor’s address covering other issues such as health care, infrastructure and securit.

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STATE OF THE TERRITORY ADDRESS 2012.pdf124.02 KB


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