Two of the most important reforms to American public schooling this century have been an increase in the minimum school-leaving age and a dramatic increase in expenditures per pupil. The first reform is generally acknowledged to have increased students' earnings later in life, while the second reform has had much more limited effects. The paper argues that both reforms would have been much more effective if accompanied by increases in schools' standards, backed by testing. Several ways of strengthening standards, including curriculum reform backed by testing and remediation, higher grading standards and additional homework requirements are discussed. Limited evidence suggests that higher standards could improve schools substantially.