US Education Overview
The education of our children in the USA gets a certain amount of bad press due to the overall standing of our students when compared with the rest of the world. Rankings of students based on testing in reading, math and science are often compared with the rest of the world. In the past few decades several reforms have occurred, but teachers are held accountable for the performance of their students.
Despite “No Child Left Behind”, “Race to the Top” and “Every Student Succeeds Act” there are still numerous problems in the school systems. Schools must be concerned about security, and children are being trained what to do in case of a possible deadly emergency. Many schools have also hired at least one armed security guard.
School funding is sometimes tied to test performance and the evaluation of school administrator and teachers. There is no empirical evidence to validate this approach.
Many countries that rank higher in the testing of those topics have longer school days, and their students attend more days per year. For instance, South Korea ranks higher, however their high school students may spend up to 16 hours per day in the classroom. Children in England spend about 6.5 to 7 hours daily in school, which is comparable with USA student. However, the English students attend school more days annually although they do not always rank higher than the US students.
Common Core Standards
Common Core Standards (CCS) are followed in 40 states in Florida. CCS has pros and cons as well. CCS is teaching a solid body of data, but some teachers do not like teaching for the standardized tests.
Students start out reading more fiction than nonfiction, but by high school they are required to read 70% nonfiction and just 30% fiction. There is no research that proves a child’s readiness for college is enhanced when they read information literature. In addition, students cannot take algebra 1 in eighth grade, which is a problem for a student that wants to major in math or science in college. These are just two problems with Common Core.
One of the problems is the education of a child is boiled down to a test. The teacher’s evaluation of the child’s performance seems to count for very little when a metric test is always the measurement of the success of the student and even the success of the school.
If you are planning for a year, sow rice; if you are planning for a decade, plant trees; if you are planning for a lifetime, educate people. -Chinese Proverb
American seem to have a one size fits all mentality. So, gifted students, average students, students with disabilities and those with special needs are sometimes found in the same classroom. This type of class is obviously very difficult for a teacher to keep the whole class engaged or even slightly motivated to learn. Especially gifted students find others do not enjoy the same literature and .it is difficult for them to find a compatible reading group
In addition, teacher need continuing education to deal with the changing environment in schools. At this time teachers must submit proof of completing a specified number of continuing hours of education to renew their licenses, but they may need more than the basic requirements. Tenure has been a problem in the past, but it has improved recently.
Many schools are closing as there are many underutilized public schools. Sometimes this is a rather short-sighted decision because schools can also be utilized for adult education or as community centers. On the other hand, many schools are overcrowded. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCED) did a study that found that 14 percent of American schools exceeded an acceptable capacity.
The NCED also does testing for fourth, eighth and twelfth grade students. The mathematics scores increased for both the fourth and eighth grade students, and reading scores have increased slightly over the past four years as well.
Additionally, some students come to class with unaddressed physical needs, food insecurity, dental problems, mental health issues or home life responsibilities. These types of problems surely interfere with a child’s ability to pay attention and learn.
My granddaughter is a second grade teacher, and she called me last year about a student with recurrent head lice since I am a RN. She wanted to see what I could suggest to treat head lice. She had a young girl that had head lice that simply was not being treated at home, which is a problems as other students may become infected with the live. Head lice often takes more than one treatment and frequent combing of the hair.
Parents Lack of Interest
Another problem in the schools in the US is the lack of interest by parents. This is not just found in poorer communities because even moderate or high income families tend to be very busy with career demands. Parents may have an over dependence in the school system as well.
Teachers have more problems getting parents involved in their child’s school, even when there is a specific problem to be addressed. The facts are a teacher can not meet every need of a child when they have a class full of students. Children need support at home to be truly successful.
An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.
In 2015, a National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading test of low-income fourth grade students ranked at 21% as compared to non-poor students who ranked at 52%. Test scores have risen over the past couple of decades, especially in Latino and urban areas. There is still room for improvement.
What we really need to teach our students is a skill set that gives them the capability of thinking and problem solving that makes them successful throughout their lives, regardless of their background.
Here's Why The U.S. School System Is Broken
My Granddaughter's Experience
Teaching is probably an art and a science. What attributes actually makes a teacher good or outstanding? I mentioned my granddaughter, and I believe she is probably an excellent elementary school teacher. She teaches in a poorer suburban area.
Several of the second grade students cried when school ended last year as they loved her and did not want to leave. She stated she felt while she was dealing with many life problems, and she did not want to teach in a more prosperous area. She wants to make a difference in the lives of the lower income children and believes she is teaching in the right school.
Dealing with hunger, lack of sleep or head lice do not phase her as she knows from the few years she has taught that you can still impact the life of a child.
There are certainly problems in the US educational system, and there are no simple solutions. I would certainly hope parents become more involved with their children’s education.
Talking with the teacher in your child’s class to keep a open dialogue is so important. Knowing your child’s strengths and weaknesses is also very important, because then you know how to help your child with any issues they may encounter in life.
Questions & Answers
© 2018 Pamela Oglesby