The costs and consequences of these problems are getting even rater, however, there are examples to be followed and changes that can be made to turn this catastrophe around. America has been subject to many reforms throughout the years. John Dewey is widely considered one Of the founders Of “new age education” (1900-present). Around the turn of the 20th century he said that “The high school must, on one hand, serve as connecting link between lower grades and the college, and it must, on the other, serve not as a steppingstone, but as a final stage for those directly entering the life of society. This theory was perpetuated in many of his books such as “Democracy and Education” and The School and Society”. (Attack and Cuban 50) As America’s population growth exploded at the onset of the 20th century’ “policy talk about high schools was riveted on the question of how to teach the increasing numbers of students, many of whom were weary of school and many of whom, allegedly were incapable of learning the traditional academic curriculum. ” (Attack and Cuban 5) Thus, begins the era of equity, believed to have started circa 1960. Charles J.
Skye writes “The back to basics movement of the late sass’s largely evaporated when the nation’s attention turned to the question f equity in the 1 ass’s. (30) This strategy took hold in America for about 20 years, until the “Outcome based movement” (a. K. A BOMB) became popular. Mike Schmoozer, an ex-English teacher, school administer and employee for TIME magazine noted that “for all the good that this movement (referring to the MOM) has done in helping us examine and define educational outcomes, it subtly lost its concern with information based improvement. ” (6) The reform of the sass’s was really the beginning of much of today’s problems. One of the popular reform efforts of the 1 9805 was the creating of so-called minimum competency tests or other exams that high school students were required to pass as a condition of graduating. Ohio’s legislature, for example, hoped to hold the state’s more accountable by creating an exit exam that all high school students in the state were required to pass. In practice, however, the exam’s standards were anything but rigorous. Although the exam was required of high school graduates, the tests were set at an eighth-grade level” (Skye 149) This flaw led to the creation of the “No Child Left Behind” act set by congress in 2001.
Aimed at disadvantaged students, NCSC introduced demonstration like never before. Every year schools are assessed and compared through standardized tests and an APP (Adequate Yearly Progress) and receive funding if they meet the requirements of the act. Overall, curriculum is the focal point of reform. There has been mass criticism on this approach, most deeming the strategy ineffective. The Teachers College Press, New York, noted that The NCSC approach has not raised performance on international assessments such as PISA that measure higher-order thinking skills and the ability to apply knowledge to novel problems. (283) As one loud see, reform has had a pretty static existence in America, and it seems that what changes the most are educational goals, and not the strategy it takes to obtain those goals. “In most cases, the starting point for standards development has been a consideration of the subject matter of the various disciplines usually taught in the school – the curriculum. ” (Aitkin 68) As mentioned before, a movement towards equality in the mid-sass’s greatly affected the system we know today. America, finally recovering from World War 2 and the Cold Wars, had movements for equality that trickled into the education sector.
The court decision on Brown vs. Board of education was finally starting to take hold in the early sass’s and reform came along with it. Many classrooms had now consolidated, and children were in much larger classes. “Between 1 930 and 1980, the number of one-room schools nose- dived from 130,000 to less than 1,000. ” (Attack and Cuban 19) It is questionable whether these consolidations and reforms have proved to make blacks more effective in school. A study found that . Black, Hispanic, and Native American students have twice the odds of dropping out compared to white students. (Reemerged 605) Current theory on culturally relevant education dictates that “teaching should meet three criteria: an ability to develop students academically, a willingness to nurture and support cultural competence, and the development Of sociopolitical or critical consciousness. ” (Ladino-Billings 483) Not only were blacks fighting for equality, but challenged students had a fighting force to be included in reform. In 1963, Martin Luther King in his famous “l Have a Dream” speech “Advocates for handicapped pupils argued that an appropriate education for the disabled was a right, not a gift.
They sought to mainstream those with special needs in regular lassoers in the ‘least restrictive environment’ that was possible for them. ” (Attack and Cuban 27) Overall, ” . Changing social conditions tend to led to school reform efforts”, and as shown above, standards seem to decrease over time. (Dozer, Violas, Sense 435) Although many education reforms are catcalled by social changes, current theory goes beyond and focuses on what is being learned in classrooms and uses our knowledge of neuroscience to make teaching and learning more efficient.
Along with the 21 SST century came a new definition Of knowledge, current theory states that: Knowledge is not static; it is shared, recycled, and instructed. Knowledge must be viewed critically. Teachers must be passionate about knowledge and learning. Teachers must scaffold, or build bridges, to facilitate learning. Assessments must be multifaceted, incorporating multiple forms of excellence (Lands- Billings 481 ) A redefined view on knowledge leads to the concept of meaningful learning. “The problem with impending changes in education is that at least one absolutely fundamental idea is not changing.
Most people still seem to think learning means memorization. ” (Canine and Canine 76) Not only is memorization not an efficient way of leaning, but it is usually forgotten and sonnet make a lasting change in your knowledge. “Learners have to perceive that drill and memorization are clearly connected to something beyond the drill itself. ” (Wolfe and Gorges 66) Without this link between the classroom and real life, and without seeing the value of what is being learned, it is almost impossible to learn.
These ideas are known as brain-based teaching, and they are primarily focused on the ways to learn that are physically the most efficient; using psychology and neuroscience to find new ways to educate and teach. Although this new approach does have a downfall: these harries do not have time-proven scientific evidence of their effectiveness, only speculation. However, one recent preliminary study showed that ” . .Students at Dry Creek Elementary [California] moved reading scores from the 50th percentile in lath grade and 49th percentile in 2nd grade to the 60th and 55th percentile respectively. (Canine and Canine 189) “What the brain principles collectively describe is that to some extent all meaningful learning is experimental” (Canine and Canine 1 08) As many recent high school students have found, without meaningful learning, all that is left for colleges and universities to asses them are standardized tests that many find to have no real value. “By failing to supplement standardized tests with richer, more meaningful alternatives, we unwittingly invite our community to use only test scores to judge us. (Schmoozer 70) As secondary students graduate to higher levels of education, they should be backed up with only necessary learning, and not filled with the “meaningless” learning we see today. “Education has a significant and enduring effect on students who populate our rural, urban and suburban schools” (Schmoozer 6), so schools should not waste their own mime and the students time on learning that is inefficient. One good part about brain based teaching is that it includes ideals that can be used by both students and teachers.
Brain based ideals can be summarized into one quote: “If there is one central part that needs to change, one basic idea that needs to become a meme – a compelling idea – it is that people understand how the human brain makes sense of things, and that influential people decide to take meaningful learning seriously. ” (Canine and Canine 77) As stated in the previous sentence, students aren’t the only factor in education; teachers and staff also play a big part in the system and can be overlooked in reform. Teachers should be able to inspire students, make them apply what they learn and most importantly, make students want to learn.
Sometimes it can be beneficial for teachers to work together to help each other with student specific ideas. “Teachers at Donaldson Elementary School in our district were reluctant to spend large chunks of their early-out times in meetings supposedly intended to promote ‘continuous improvement. ‘ But when they began to see collective progress, a direct result f their focused collaboration, the meetings became more meaningful. A good example is what happened in 2nd grade writing: students’ difficulty in writing in writing descriptive settings.
After the team brainstormed, a team member proposed having students first draw then describe in writing the setting they imagined for their stories. The number of students able to write high-quality descriptions went from just a few to almost the entire 2nd grade class” (Schmoozer 1 1) Like previously noted, many previous reforms have been solely based on curriculum and not enough attention is put on teachers. The central-concern is for the teachers to become better equipped to know what new strategies to adopt and how to adopt them. (Canine and Canine 187) This quote originates from a brain based approach, and this and many other new- age reforms are looking at teachers to change their roles to increase the quality of education. A study taken in the late ass’s found that “A one percent increase in teacher quality was associated with a three to five percent decline in the percentage of students failing an exam. ” (Strauss and Sawyer 107) Students and teachers must work together for optimal results, key monuments that favor results and improvement: teamwork, goals, and the selective and judicious use of data. (Schmoozer 9) Teacher quality and ability are not the only elements to this equation, staffing patterns also play a role in educational success. In research collected by Robert Strauss, it was found that Japanese have ;.NET to thirty percent more teachers and subsequently ten to fifteen percent less administrative staff and support services in public schools. Perhaps another problem with the American educational system is the use of resources and the number of teachers in specific schools. The findings concluded: “A decrease in administrative and support services would increase the efficiency in schools by a modest percentage. (Strauss and Sawyer 1 1 5) The U. S and Japan are not the only countries with vastly different educational structures. As America falls in PISA scores, below average in reading, science, and math, other countries climb in rating. However, this is nothing new, “American students historically have ranked low on international assessments, owing to a range of social and economic factors -? from skyrocketing rates of chi lid poverty to sheer population diversity. Nearly 6, 100 American students participated in this round of testing. Referring to the latest PISA test results)” (Associated press) In up and coming countries like Sweden, “More than 99 percent of students now successfully complete compulsory basic education, and about 90% complete upper secondary school. ” And 98 percent of the costs of education are covered by government, rather than by private sources. ” (Strauss and Savvier 1 65) The difference between the U. S and Sweden in this regard, is the educational structure. Teaching is done much more on a personal level, and there is a much higher coacher to student ratio, much like America’s colleges and Universities, which are among the best in the world.
Burdened with social and economic issues, the U. S needs to get back on track before the ground “crumbles beneath its feet. ” ” Incremental, measurable improvement not only can but must occur quickly. ” (Schmoozer 7) The biggest problems with the American educational system are rooted in low expectations and poor national standards. Many organizations have also rejected the current allocation of time and type of learning used in schools. In one study polling multiple high schools, ALL schools agreed on a list of Less” and “More” admonitions for American public education.
They are as follows: LESS whole-class teacher directed instruction LESS student passivity, sitting, listening, receiving LESS student time reading textbooks LESS rote memorization of facts and details LESS stress on competition and grades LESS use and reliance on standardized tests MORE experimental, inductive, hands-on learning MORE active learning with all the attendant noise of students doing, talking, collaborating MORE deep study of a smaller number of topics MORE responsibility transferred to students for their work: goal-setting, record-keeping. Motoring, evaluation MORE attention to affective needs and varying cognitive styles of students MORE cooperative collaborative activity MORE reliance on descriptive evaluations Of student growth (E. D Hirsch 129) These ideals coincide with brain based teaching and modern student-orientated learning, but they deviate from the reality of what is being applied in schools. “The biggest problem is getting schools to employ new reform. ” (Skye 96) “Schools of education have become priesthoods of good intentions and well-meaningless, where would-be teachers and learning disorders: teachers as therapists, social worker and Big Sister. Skye 88) Much of the reason the U. S is falling behind in educational rankings is due to extremely and increasingly low standards for its students. “one aspect of the [American] educationalist culture – its apparent addiction to simply redefining failure as success and mediocrity as ‘above average’ by simple diktat” (Darling 56) Even though many people find the problem with American education in its national standards, much more people see a solution in them as well. National standards should clearly lay out what the nation expects students to learn and teachers to teach in a way that teachers, students, and parents an understand national educational goals will succeed or fail on these standards. ” (Loveless, 51-52) There are also reforms being made in school district, with a primary focus on changing to system to county-wide school districts. To put it frankly “Consolidation is the new black”. To eliminate small high schools in favor of large, comprehensive high schools as a means to facilitate such reforms as ability, grouping, vocational, coursework, and guidance enhanced curricula and advanced placement programs. ” (Tech 440) The theory is that by pooling resources and eliminating small and less advanced high schools, higher education can be given to all students. “For successful schools to become the norm, districts must move beyond the pursuit of an array of ad hoc initiatives managed by exception to fundamental changes in district operations and policy. (Darling 270) So what are the costs and consequences of these low standards, a poorly structured system, and below average students? Much of that has yet to be revealed, although some statistics provide a good premonition. “More than 80% of America’s one million prisoners are high school dropouts. Each prisoner costs taxpayers upwards of 20,000 dollars per year. A college student costs taxpayers, in contrast, about 3,300 dollars of tax money. ” (Dozer, Violas, Sense 442) So now we have found that poverty is not only a cause of poor education, but a result as well.
This chain reaction could lead to things much more cataclysmic than below average scores and poor standards. ‘ ‘The costs of poor teachers are represented not only in the costs of low achievement borne by their students, but also the costs to schools of remediation, grade retention, special education, and disciplinary problems that are often tied to school failure. ” Darling 1 07) Once again teachers play a fundamental role in his problem, and failure has led to massive monetary problems in the U. S. Overall many reforms have made an attempt at American education, and most have proved to only make things worse.
Low standards, the focus on fairness, and a decrease in school structure have led to a ‘below average’ educational system that exists today. The costs and consequences of these problems are getting even greater, however, the latest wave of reforms have proved to be effective, and show hope in the return of Americas top spot on the global stage of education. “Education is not a problem. Education is an opportunity. ” -Lyndon B. Johnson Works Cited “American Educational Research Journal” -Volume 32, Number 3, Fall 1995.