A r c h i v e d  I n f o r m a t i o n

A Nation At Risk - April 1983

Appendix A: Charter--National Commission on Excellence in Education


20 U.S.C. 1233a. The Commission is governed by the provisions of Part D of the General Education Provisions Act (P.L. 90-247 as amended; 20 U.S.C. 1233 et seq.) and the Federal Advisory Committee Act (P.L. 92-463; 5 U.S.C Appendix I) which set forth standards for the formation and use of advisory committees.

Purpose and Functions

The Commission advises and makes recommendations to the nation and to the Secretary of Education. To carry out this mission the Commission is charged with the following responsibilities:

  1. To review and synthesize the data and scholarly literature on the quality of learning and teaching in the nation's schools, colleges, and universities, both public and private, with special concern for the educational experience of teen-age youth;

  2. To examine and to compare and contrast the curricula, standards, and expectations of the educational systems of several advanced countries with those of the United States;

  3. To study a representative sampling of university and college admission standards and lower division course requirements with particular reference to the impact upon the enhancement of quality and the promotion of excellence such standards may have on high school curricula and on expected levels of high school academic achievement;

  4. To review and to describe educational programs that are recognized as preparing students who consistently attain higher than average scores in college entrance examinations and who meet with uncommon success the demands placed on them by the nation's colleges and universities;

  5. To review the major changes that have occurred in American education as well as events in society during the past quarter century that have significantly affected educational achievement;

  6. To hold hearings and to receive testimony and expert advice on efforts that could and should be taken to foster higher levels of quality and academic excellence in the nation's schools, colleges, and universities;

  7. To do all other things needed to define the problems of and the barriers to attaining greater levels of excellence in American education; and

  8. To report and to make practical recommendations for action to be taken by educators, public officials, governing boards, parents, and others having a vital interest in American education and a capacity to influence it for the better.


The Commission consists of at least 12, but not more than 19, public members appointed by the Secretary. The Secretary shall designate a chairperson from among the members. Among its members the Commission includes persons who are knowledgeable about educational programs at various levels and are familiar with views of the public, of employers, of educators, and of leaders of a range of professions regarding the status of education today, requirements for the future, and ways the quality of education for all Americans can be improved.

A quorum of the Commission is a majority of appointed members.

Terms of service of members end with the termination of the Commission.

Hearings on behalf of the Commission may be held by one or more members with the authorization of the chairperson.

The Commission may establish standing committees composed exclusively of its members. Each standing committee complies with the requirements of applicable statutes and Departmental regulations. Each committee presents to the Commission findings and recommendations for action by the full Commission. Timely notification of the establishment of a committee and any change therein, including its charge, membership, and frequency of meetings, will be made in writing to the Committee Management Officer. All committees act under the policies established by the Commission as a whole.

Management and staff services are provided by the Executive Director who serves as the Designated Federal Official to the Commission and by the National Institute of Education.


The Commission meets approximately four times a year at the call of the Chairperson, with the advance approval of the Secretary or the Designated Federal Official who approves the agenda and is present or represented at all meetings. Standing committees meet as required at the call of their Chairperson with the concurrence of the Commission Chairperson. All meetings are open to the public except as determined otherwise by the Assistant Secretary for Educational Research and Improvement. Notice of all meetings shall be given to the public. Meetings are conducted, and records of proceedings kept, in accordance with applicable laws and Department regulations.


In accordance with the General Education Provisions Act and other applicable laws, Commission members shall be entitled to an honorarium of $100 per day for official business of the Commission. Their per diem and travel expenses will be paid in accordance with Federal Travel Regulations.

Annual Cost Estimate

Estimate of the direct cost for operating the Commission, including compensation and travel expenses for members as well as costs for studies, but excluding staff support, is $332,000. Estimate of annual person-years of staff required is 16. Estimate of direct annual costs for administrative support, staff and staff per diem and travel expenses is $453,000. The National Institute of Education will provide additional administrative and research assistance to the Commission.


In addition to its final report, which is expected eighteen months from the initial meeting, the Commission submits to the Congress by March 31 of each year an annual report which contains as a minimum a list of the names and business addresses of the members, a list of the dates and places of the meetings, the functions of the Commission, and a summary of Commission activities and recommendations made during the year. Such report is transmitted with the Secretary's annual report to Congress. The Commission makes such other reports or recommendations as may be appropriate. A copy of the annual report and other reports is provided to the Committee Management Officer.

Termination Date

It is estimated that the time necessary for the Commission to complete its activities and report is at least 18 months. Therefore, to insure the completion of the report, the Secretary determines that this Commission terminates not later than two years from the date of this Charter.


August 5, 1981
T.H. Bell, Secretary of Education

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