* 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 , and Action in the States, by the Task Force on Education for Economic Growth and the Education Commission of the States. Write to the Distribution Center, Education Commission of the States, 1860 Lincoln Street, Denver, Colo. 80295.
* America's Competitive Challenge: The Need for a National Response, a Report from the Business-Higher Education Forum. 51 pp. $17.50. Write to Business-Higher Education Forum, Suite 800, One Dupont Circle NW, Washington, D.C. 10036.
* 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 book stores or through Harper & Row Publishers Inc., 10 East 53rd St., New York, N.Y. 10022.
* Making the Grade, a report from the Twentieth Century Fund Task Force on Federal Elementary and Secondary Education Policy. 174 pp. $6. Write to 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 book stores or through Macmillan Publishing Co. Inc., 866 Third Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10022
* Paideia Problems and Possibilities: A consideration of questions raised by ''The Paideia Proposal,'' by Mortimer J. Adler. 113 pp. $7.95. Macmillan (see above).
* Six Great Ideas, by Mortimer J. Adler. 243 pp. $5.95. Macmillan (see above).
* A Place Called School: Prospects for the Future, by John I. Goodlad. 416 pp. $18.95. Available at bookstores or through 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.
* Horace's Compromise: The American High School, by Theodore R. Sizer. 241 pp. $16.95. Available at bookstores or through Houghton Mifflin Company, 2 Park Steet, Boston, Mass. 02108. Closest look at the teacher in the classroom of all the major reports.
* Just Schools: The Idea of Racial Equality in American Education, by David L. Kirp. 374 pp. $8.95 (paperback). Available at bookstores or through University of California Press, Berkeley, Calif. 94720. Five Northern cities and their case histories of integration.
* Japan's High Schools, by Thomas P. Rohlen. 362 pp. $10.95. University of California Press, Berkeley, Calif. 94720. Observations of a cross section of Japanese high schools.
* The Good High School: Portraits of Character and Culture, by Sara Lawrence Lightfoot. 399 pp. $19.95. Available at bookstores or through Basic Books Inc. 10 East 53rd Street, New York, N.Y. 10022. Snapshots of urban, suburban, and private high schools.
* High School Achievement: Public, Catholic, and Private Schools Compared, by James S. Coleman, Thomas Hoffer, Sally Kilgore. 289 pp. $20.75. Available at bookstores or through Basic Books Inc., 10 East 53rd St., New York, N.Y. 10022.
* Necessary Lessons: Decline and Renewal in American Schools, by Gilbert T. Sewall, 206 pp. $16.75. Available at bookstores or through The Free Press, 866 Third Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10022
* The Troubled Crusade: American Education 1945-1980, by Diane Ravitch. 420 pp. $19.95. Available at bookstores or through Basic Books Inc., 10 East 53rd Street, New York, N.Y. 10022. A history of the last four decades of American education.