In 1983, the national report, A Nation At Risk, delivered a wake up call for our education system. It described stark realities like a significant number of functionally illiterate high schoolers, plummeting student performance, and international competitors breathing down our necks. It was a warning, a reproach, and a call to arms.
Fast forward twenty-five years to 2008. What has changed?
In some ways, we haven't fully learned the lessons of A Nation at Risk, and continue to deal with the consequences. Today, half of all minority students fail to graduate from high school on time. But there's an upside. A Nation At Risk inspired some state-level pioneers to think about standards and accountability in education, and put them into practice. This, in turn, led to the landmark No Child Left Behind Act. Now, across the nation, we're finally measuring the progress of students of every race and income level, finally holding ourselves accountable for their performance, and finally producing and sharing data to determine what works.
Accurate, honest information is helping to show us the way forward, but it's also revealing disturbing realities—like grave inequities between students of different races and income levels. As a result, the accountability movement to raise student achievement has reached a tipping point: will we hide from tough problems or redouble our efforts to help every student achieve their potential?
Over the upcoming months, I will pose various questions related to the state of education in the US. I want to hear from students, parents, teachers, business leaders, policymakers, and others. I want to hear what you think about your education experiences, how you think the public education system is serving America's children, and how we can partner to make sure all children receive a great education.
I look forward to your thoughtful and candid responses.