According to 'A Nation at Risk', the American education system has declined due to a '
rising tide of mediocrity' in our schools. States such as New York have responded to the
findings and recommendations of the report by implementing such strategies as the
'Regents Action Plan' and the 'New Compact for Learning'.
In the early 1980's, President Regan ordered a national commission to study our
education system. The findings of this commission were that, compared with other
industrialized nations, our education system is grossly inadequate in meeting the
standards of education that many other countries have developed. At one time, America
was the world leader in technology, service, and industry, but overconfidence based on
a historical belief in our superiority has caused our nation to fall behind the rapidly
growing competitive market in the world with regard to education. The report in some
respects is an unfair comparison of our education system, which does not have a
national standard for goals, curriculum, or regulations, with other countries that do, but
the findings nevertheless reflect the need for change. Our education system at this time
is regulated by states which implement their own curriculum, set their own goals and
have their own requirements for teacher preparation. Combined with this is the fact that
we have lowered our expectations in these areas, thus we are not providing an equal or
quality education to all students across the country. The commission findings generated
recommendations to improve the content of education and raise the standards of
student achievement, particularly in testing, increase the time spent on education and
provide incentives to encourage more individuals to enter the field of education as well
as improving teacher preparation.
N.Y. State responded to these recommendations by first implementing the Regents
Action Plan; an eight year plan designed to raise the standards of education. This plan
changed the requirements for graduation by raising the number of credits needed for
graduation, raising the number of required core curriculum classes such as social
studies, and introduced technology and computer science. The plan also introduced the
Regents Minimum Competency Tests, which requires a student to pass tests in five
major categories; math, science, reading, writing, and two areas of social studies.
Although the plan achieved many of its goals in raising standards of education in N.Y.
State, the general consensus is that we need to continue to improve our education
system rather than being satisfied with the achievements we have made thus far.
Therefore, N.Y. adopted 'The New Compact for Learning'. This plan is based on the
principles that all children can learn. The focus of education should be on results and
teachers should aim for mastery, not minimum competency. Education should be
provided for all children and authority with accountability should be given to educators