A Nation at Risk

A Nation At Risk--
Basic Summary of the Benchmark

On April 26, 1983 the U.S. Department of Education’s National Commission on Excellence in Education shared their report “ A Nation at Risk.” The dramatic report shattered public confidence in America’s school system and sparked a new wave of education reform. This program explores the impact of the "free market" experiments that ensued, from vouchers and charter schools to privatization, all with the goal of meeting tough new academic standards. In response to the outlined presented problems, the commission made 38 recommendations, divided across 5 major categories: Content, Standards and Expectations, Time, Teaching, Leadership and Fiscal Support.

Key Manifestations
A Nation at Risk is often cited as the origin of current reform efforts. One complaint within the school system was the lack of quality of teachers, hence, the states raised teachers salaries in order to encourage better teaching. More benefits were subsidized for schools and school programs in order to better the educational environment. They were also hoping that these benefits will increase the competition among schools in order to strive for the best. One of the most prevalent issues with education was the lack of parental guidance. Parents displayed a blatant disinterest in their children’s educations. Since this report, there has been a significant increase in parents participation in helping their children with their school work and more participation in programs like the PTA. There was also a large emphasis on low test scores and many argue that this document was the forum for No Child Left Behind.

Key Personel
Ronald Reagan and the 18 members of the National Commission on Excellence in Education. It was chaired by David P. Gardner, President of the University of Utah and Nobel prize-winning chemist Glenn T. Seaborg. The committee was composed from a diverse background of prominent occupations including: presidents of colleges, superintendents, professors, principles, and governors.

Why/How a Benckmark
A Nation at Risk is a benchmark because it surfaced an issue that the majority of the population was ignoring: education. It appears that the education system was at an all time low, according to a NAR, and Reagan hoped that this report would change the entire American education system. It is necessary to focus on the NAR as a benchmark in the history of education because it catapulted a reform movement.