Historians specializing in the field of American education agree that the report A Nation at Risk, prepared by the National Commission on Excellence in Education, has had a significant influence on schools since 1983. This entry describes how the report was prepared, what it said, and how its impact has been felt for more than two decades.


The Commission on Excellence in Education was created by Ronald Reagan's Secretary of Education, Terrel Bell, in 1981. Bell believed that because of the low test scores of American students in international examinations and because of an apparent public uneasiness with schools, the time was right for a study that would provide recommendations for improving our schools and colleges. Despite a lack of enthusiasm for the project by ...

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