A Nation at Risk and Education Reform: a Frame Analysis
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University of Washington Abstract A Nation at Risk and Education Reform: a Frame Analysis Patrick Holmes Chair of the Supervisory Committee: Professor Walter Parker College of Education This study focuses on the language and ideas presented in the US government report A Nation at Risk. Education reform in the 1980's came to national attention when A Nation at Risk was released. This paper analyzes A Nation at Risk in order to determine the salience of the frames and their effect on the dialogue and actions. Methodologically it uses a frame analysis focusing on the problem frames, solution frames, and motivational frames embedded in A Nation at Risk. The central finding is that A Nation at Risk focuses on three main discourses of educational mediocrity: national security, competition, and ineffective classrooms. Each discourse includes a motivational frame that these reforms must be acted upon in order for the US to maintain its economic security in a changing world. A Nation at Risk framed the debate surrounding educational reform and its suggestions became guideposts for educational reform in the 1980's and to some extent still influence educational reform now. The focus on content, curriculum, teacher preparedness, time, standards, and testing have become the buzz words used to describe how education should be reformed now. This study hopes establishes a basis for future comparisons of both previous education reform frames, such as for the period after Sputnik, as well as modern frames from the post-9-11 period, and how they continue to influence educational policy.
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