See the Note on Primary and Secondary Education Data
Since 1980, when the Rockefeller Commission on the Humanities declared K–12 education the highest priority in the humanities and called upon scholars and policymakers to turn their attention to the schools, the content and quality of primary and secondary education have been the subject of spirited public debate. The impetus for improvement intensified in 1983 after the National Commission on Excellence in Education issued an even more strongly worded report entitled A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform.1 Since then, state and local school authorities have experimented with a range of strategies for increasing student achievement, particularly among minority and low-income students. The most significant recent policy development at the national level is the 2002 No Child Left Behind Act (Public Law 107-110), which emphasized regular standardized assessment of student performance in key subject areas.
The selection of indicators of the condition of primary and secondary humanities education presented here reflects the structure of current research on the quality of education. Such research tends to focus on the character of and relationships among three elements: student achievement, curriculum and instruction, and teacher preparation.
1 National Commission on Excellence in Education, A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1983); available online at
Note on Primary and Secondary Education Data
Since the high school curriculum usually includes requirements for the study of English, history, and foreign languages, information on teachers and students in these areas is fairly accessible. Regrettably, in other, less frequently studied fields (such as philosophy or art history), data are rarely available.