All, regardless of race or class or economic status, are entitled to a fair chance and to the tools for developing their individual powers of mind and spirit to the utmost. This promise means that all children by virtue of their own efforts, competently guided, can hope to attain the mature and informed judgment needed to secure gainful employment, and to manage their own lives, thereby serving not only their own interests but also the progress of society itself.

–A Nation At Risk, April 1983

education goals1 (Box 3-1) and created the National Education Goals Panel2 to report national and state progress toward the goals, identify promising practices for improving education, and help to build a nationwide bipartisan consensus to achieve the goals. The Goals Panel released annual reports and other resource documents as guidance for measuring progress toward the goals, establishing national education standards, assessing students’ completion of school, and recognizing the link between teacher quality and student achievement.

The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001 that pushed for increased accountability for states, school districts, and schools; more choices for parents and students, especially those attending low-performing schools; greater flexibility for states and school districts in the use of federal education funds in exchange for improved performance; and a stronger emphasis on reading. Tough sanctions would be imposed on schools failing to show improved performance, and those that narrowed the achievement gaps would be eligible to receive State Academic Achievement Awards. The principles of the NCLB Act also flowed to other programs authorized by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, such as the Improving Teacher Quality State Grants program that applies scientifically based research to prepare, train, and recruit high-quality teachers. More recently, under President Barack Obama, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provided $4.35 billion for the Race to the Top Fund, a competitive grant program designed to encourage and reward states that are creating the conditions for education innovation and reform.

In spite of the numerous reports and policy and reform initiatives targeting curriculum and educational standards, assessments, and teacher preparation, today the nation is faced with the same issues—failing schools and


The six goals were later expanded to eight by Congress.


The Goals Panel was reconstituted to include representatives from Congress as voting members and equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats. President Clinton signed the “Goals 2000: Educate America Act” adding state legislators to the panel membership.

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