Education Policy: Research: Chronology:

Federal-State Education Policy Chronology

This summary lists key events and developments in the history of federal education policy.  You can view the complete version of this publication in PDF format.

1980s-present Standards and Accountability Movement, responding to perceived decline of education and building on basic education movement, calls for and establishes standards to be assessed by standardized tests. Most states establish content and skill standards. The effectiveness of schools and educators at all levels are assessed by standardized tests.
1981 Educational Consolidation and Improvement Act, revision of ESEA, addresses concerns about waste, inefficiency, and bureaucracy. Some federal funds consolidated into block grants to the states, assuring greater state control over spending.
1983 A Nation at Risk: The Report of the National Commission on Excellence in Education. President Reagan's Department of Education report finds inadequate or declining achievement scores, graduation rates, expectations of students, and focus on academics. Criticizes absence of standards and calls for major reforms.
1985- present Charter schools movement, begun in 1985, grows through the 1990s, with 40 states plus Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia having passed charter school legislation by 2004.
1986 A Nation Prepared: Teachers for the Twenty-First Century, sponsored by the Carnegie Corporation, calls for national teacher standards, restructuring of schools, increased teacher salaries, and aid for minorities becoming teachers.
1988 NAEP revised to authorize state-by-state samples and reporting of results.

National Education Summit convened by President Bush and the National Governors' Association at Charlottesville, VA. First statement of National Goals for Education approved.