Anya Kamenetz: “A Nation at Risk” Cooked the Books

Diane Ravitch's blog

In this report by NPR journalist Anya Kamenetz, we learn that the famous 1983 report “A Nation at Risk,” we learn that the Reagan-era Commission “cooked the books.” Kamenetz interviewed two of the original commission members and learned that the commission knew its conclusion in advance, then cherry-picked facts to prove its claim that the schools were ”mired in mediocrity.”

She writes:

“In the context of declining resources and rising child poverty, maintaining steady or slightly improving test scores over decades could be described with other words besides “flat” and “disappointing” — perhaps “surprising” or “heroic.”

“But the narrative established by “A Nation At Risk” still seems to be the one that dominates how we think of the data.

“[Professor James] Guthrie, for one, thinks that’s been, on balance, a good thing, because it brought education to the front and center of the U.S. agenda.

“My view of it in…

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