A Nation at Risk

A Nation at Risk was the popular title of the 1983 report of President Ronald Reagan's National Commission on Excellence in Education. The report called for greater federal support of education and included the claim that the nation was threatened by "a rising tide of mediocrity." Ironically, President Reagan used the occasion of the release of the report to introduce a series of education reforms, including many that were later adopted by Congress, although they were not specifically included in the report.

One of the most quoted portions of this report came from the introduction just after the "rising tide" remark. It said, "If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war. As it stands, we have allowed this to happen to ourselves. We have even squandered the gains in student achievement made in the wake of the Sputnik challenge. Moreover, we have dismantled essential support systems which helped make those gains possible. We have, in effect, been committing an act of unthinking, unilateral educational disarmament."

The following five recommendations were made by the report:

1. Content: Recommended that the graduation requirements for all students be raised to include 4 years of English, 3 years of mathematics, 3 years of science, 3 years of social studies, 1 semester of computer science, and for college bound students 2 years of foreign language.

2. Standards and Expectations: Schools should expect better academic performance and behavior from students and universities should strengthen admissions requirements.

3. Time: More time should be spent on the new required courses by being more efficient and by lengthening the school day and year.

4.Teaching: A series of recommendations that focused around teachers being better prepared.

5. Leadership and Fiscal Support: A call to citizens to hold educational leaders responsible be willing to provide the fiscal resources needed to implement the outlined reforms.