A Nation at Risk was issued by the National Commission on Excellence in Education, which found poor academic performance at every level of schooling. Signaling the development of new priorities for the federal government's approach to education reform, it was used by President Ronald Reagan's administration to frame the education debate in cold war terms and warned of a “rising tide of mediocrity.” The report equated the state of education in the United States to an “act of war” and made direct comparisons between the economic competitiveness of the U.S. economy and other countries, particularly Japan, South Korea, and Germany. Additionally, the report cited a number of “indicators of risk” that included declining SAT scores; low student scores in literacy, science, and math; and poor ...

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