The National Assessment Context
Over the past two decades, education in the United States has undergone phenomenal change. Fueled by both internal and external forces, challenges arose to previously held paradigms. Political, economic, social, cultural, and technological concerns all combined to drive the changes. Waves of educational reform precipitated by publication of A Nation at Risk (National Commission on Excellence in Education, 1983) and Toward Civilization (National Endowment for the Arts, 1988) continue today. By focusing national attention on the scope of public education, these two reports stimulated intense examination of its nature and quality.