School systems across the country have been misleading students and parents into thinking they are ready for college, the Secretary of Education said Sunday.

Arne Duncan told ABC's Christiane Amanpour that the Obama administration's Race to the Top program had reversed the trend of schools lowering standards.

"What we've done through Race to the Top is you're seeing the vast majority of states, almost 40 states raise standards for every single child," said Duncan.

"As a country we're dumbing down standards and reduced them due to political pressure and we've actually been lying to children and parents telling them they're ready when they're not," he explained.

Duncan said rewarding teacher excellence is part of the way that students will meet the new standards.

"There is no simple answer here. All of these things working together but, yes, we have to shine a spotlight on excellence. We have hundreds of thousands of teachers who are beating the odds every single day performing miracles. We have extraordinary schools closing the achievement gaps, great districts, great states. We have to learn from excellence. Answers are all out there," he said.

This video is from ABC's This Week, broadcast Aug. 29, 2010.

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