National Education Technology Plan 2004
A Nation on the Move
|"The people of the United States need to know that individuals in our society who do not possess the levels of skill, literacy and training essential to this new era will be effectively disenfranchised, not simply from the material rewards that accompany competent performance, but also from the chance to participate fully in our national life."|
A Nation at Risk, 19831
Twenty-one years ago, the U.S. Department of Education's National Commission on Excellence in Education published the landmark report, A Nation at Risk. It warned that "the educational foundations of our society are being eroded by a rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very future as a nation and a people."2
It made the case that students are not being challenged with high quality mathematics and science curricula and many students are not learning the basic skills. A majority of our secondary school students still are not grade-level proficient in reading, mathematics or science. The data for minority students remain alarming.3
But change is in the air. Clearly, we must innovate for our country to succeed in this time of rapidly increasing global competition. This innovation is occurring. We see dramatic changes taking place in the educational landscape – a new excitement in the vast possibilities of the digital age for changing how we learn, how we teach, and how the various segments of our educational system fit together – a ferment for reform that is bringing changes undreamt of even five years ago and unparalleled in our nation's history.
With one notable exception, No Child Left Behind, these changes are being driven by forces in the field. They are being driven by the new realities of the digital marketplace, the rapid development of "virtual" schools, and the enthusiasm of an amazing generation of students weaned on the marvels of technology who are literally forcing our schools to adapt and change in ways never before imagined. As one high schooler put it, "we have technology in our blood."4
In education, this is a nation on the move and the pace is accelerating. Without seeking to overlook the very real challenges that remain, we feel the present evidence suggests strongly that we may be entering a new golden age in American education.