Fifteen years ago, when I was named Secretary of Education by President Ronald Reagan, "A Nation at Risk" had just evaluated the performance of the American school system, and reported that the state of our schools was not only a threat to kids but to the future of our nation. In response, America has tried a variety of reforms at the state level. Most notably and most recently, we have embraced (in theory, at least) the idea of high standards and accountability. Almost every state in the union now has standards in reading and math, and twenty-six have instituted exit exams for high school. The slight increases in student performance, seen in the National Assessment of Educational Progress in the late 1990’s, reflects some success on these fronts.