Some commentators also argue that in industrialized countries there is no correlation between school achievement and economic success but that educational reforms often are the least controversial way of planning social improvement.c School changes are less threatening than are direct structural changes, which can involve confronting the whole organization of industry and government. Reforming education, it is claimed, is easier and less expensive than examining and correcting the societal problems that affect our schools directly—economic weaknesses, wealth and income inequality, an aging population, the prevalence of violence and drug abuse, and the restructuring of work.
Because there is not a well-developed literature on the effectiveness of K–12 learning and teaching interventions, it is challenging to recommend programs with high confidence. For example, some have argued that the International Baccalaureate program has established neither teacher qualifications nor standards for faculties and that the Advanced Placement curriculum needs better quality control.d Others have suggested that summer teacher-education programs are merely vehicles for textbook companies; others argue that any teacher-education programis worthless unless there is a strong in-classroom, continuing mentoring component.
Virtually all quality jobs in the global economy will require certain mathematical and scientific skills. The committee’s objectives are to ensure that all students will gain these necessary skills and have the opportunity to become part of a cadre of world-class scientists and engineers who can create the new products that will in turn broadly enhance the nation’s standard of living. In short, our goal in producing highly qualified scientists and engineers is to ensure that, through their innovativeness, high-quality jobs are available to all Americans.
When fully implemented, the committee’s recommendations will produce the academic achievement in science, mathematics, and technology that every student should exhibit and will afford numerous opportunities for further learning. Excellent teachers, increasing numbers of students meeting high academic standards, and measurable results will become the academic reality.