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In this report by NPR journalist Anya Kamenetz, we learn that for the 1983 report “A Nation at Risk,”-- The Reagan-era Commission “cooked the books.” It knew its conclusion in advance, then cherry-picked facts to prove its claim that the schools were ”mired in mediocrity.” Dr Ravitch :' The militaristic tone of the report created a false sense of panic, based on distorted facts. The report promoted a wrong-headed narrative that encouraged politicians to engage in grandstanding and in frankly destructive forays into education policy. It shifted control of education policy from educators to uninformed politicians. It created a political demand for standards and testing, while pointedly ignoring the growing proportion of children living in poverty.'
The narrative established by “A Nation At Risk” still dominates how we think of the data;