The studies that launched reform

Nine reports on education in the United States have been issued this year. Each drew on the work of highly regarded educational researchers. Each had adequate resources to perform a thorough study. The recommendations for each were supported either by large data bases or extensive, systematic classroom observations of a large national sample of school systems.

One of the best summations under a single cover of these nine reports is Education Under Study, available by writing Northeast Regional Exchange Inc., 160 Turnpike Road, Chelmsford, Mass. 01824.

The nine reports themselves are:

* Academic Preparation for College: What Students Need to Know and Be Able to Do, by the Educational Equality Project and the College Board. 46 pp. Free from the Office of Academic Affairs, the College Board, 888 Seventh Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10106.

* Action for Excellence: A Comprehensive Plan to Improve Our Nation's Schools , by the Task Force on Education for Economic Growth and the Education Commission of the States. 53 pp. $5. Available from the Distribution Center, Education Commission of the States, Suite 300, 1860 Lincoln Street, Denver, Colo. 80295.

* America's Competitive Challenge: The Need for a National Response, a Report to the President of the United States From the Business-Higher Education Forum. 51 pp. $17.50. Available from Business-Higher Education Forum, Suite 800, One Dupont Circle NW, Washington, D.C. 20036.

* High School: A Report on Secondary Education in America, by Ernest L. Boyer and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. 379 pp. $15. Available at bookstores or from Harper & Row Publishers, 10 East 53rd Street, New York, N.Y. 10022.

* Making the Grade, a report of the Twentieth Century Fund Task Force on Federal Elementary and Secondary Education Policy. 174 pp. $6. Available from the Twentieth Century Fund, 41 East 70th Street, New York, N.Y. 10021.

* A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Education Reform, by the National Commission on Excellence in Education. 65 pp. $4.50. Available from the Superintendent of Documents, US Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402.

* The Paideia Proposal: An Educational Manifesto, by Mortimer J. Adler on behalf of the members of the Paideia Group. 84 pp. $2.95. Available at bookstores or from Macmillan Publishing Company, 866 Third Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10022.

* A Place Called School: Prospects for the Future, by John I. Goodlad. 416 pp. $18.95. Available at bookstores or from McGraw-Hill Book Company, Customer Service, Princeton Road, Hightstown, N.J. 08520.

* A Study of High Schools, co-sponsored by the National Association of Secondary School Principals and the National Association of Independent Schools. A brochure describing the study is available by writing Study of High Schools, 18 Tremont Street, Boston, Mass. 02108.

According to ''Education Under Study,'' several conclusions are common to the nine reports:

- On school organization and management. Local administration is critical, but state politics is crucial to funding.

- On curriculum. Reform is needed, and the emphasis in each report is the establishment of standards in number of courses and achievement.

- On teachers and teaching. The sine qua non of the reform effort is upgrading the caliber of the teacher in the classroom.

- On quality and equity issues. Schools must continue to strive for equality and excellence, even though that goal so far has been elusive. Most of the reports indicate the thrust for excellence should not reduce the demand for equity.

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