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US Education Overview

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US Education

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 Rankings

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.

School Problems

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.

School Bus


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Student's Problems

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.

Testing Comparisons

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.



© 2018 Pamela Oglesby


Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 13, 2018:

Dred, You make some excellent points, and I think the younger generation will play an important part in our future also. That is why they need a good education. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

Travel Chef from Manila on September 13, 2018:

Nice points here Pamela. I must say that US Education has its own advantage and disadvantages. You're right about the one class fits all. In some countries, students are ranked yearly that will determine if they will be transferred to a cream of the top class. This encourages these so-called gifted students to improve their class performance. The advantage of US education is that they are financially supportive of students. Compared to other countries, grants or scholarships are usually given to students who is intelligence but financially incapable. There is always two side to the story as usual. Hopefully, the government will do something about all of this matter. I totally believe that younger generations will play an important role in our future.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on August 18, 2018:

Hi Genna,

We have fallen behind other countries. I also think applying knowledge in terms of quantitative thinking and problem solving is what needs to be happening. Teachers are often tasked with teaching students to pass the tests, so much is lost.

I hope we can improve also. Our children do not go to school for as many days per year as most countries, which could be another issue. I appreciate your insight a major problem in our school systems.

Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on August 17, 2018:

This is an impressive an well-researched article, Pamela. "..a one size fits all mentality." Absolutely. What I have also noticed is that there seems to be an emphasis on teaching facts as opposed to applying knowledge in terms of quantitative thinking and problem solving. And the lack of performance testing is disconcerting. We have fallen behind other countries in too many areas. I only hope we improve; our future generations depend on the quality of or education systems.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on August 15, 2018:

Hi Peggy, You make a good point concerning education being a lifelong process. I am so proud of my granddaughter as I agree with your statement. Thanks so much for your comments.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on August 15, 2018:

Hi Pop, I also do not think Common Core is the solution to educational problems, and I know many teachers feel that way also.

The concern you addressed about parents is one of the reasons my granddaughter teaches in a poor area. She stated when teaching in a more prosperous area parent come to you wanted to know why their child got a C instead of an A. Teachers have a tough job no doubt. Thanks for your comments,

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on August 15, 2018:

Your granddaughter who is a teacher should be lauded for her caring and concern regarding her students. We need more teachers like her. As you pointed out, parents also need to be involved. Those school buildings could and should be utilized for other purposes when children are not occupying them. Adult education is equally important. Education is a lifelong process. It does not end with a degree. Good article Pamela!

breakfastpop on August 15, 2018:

I think Common Core is a huge mistake, and so do many of the teachers I have talked to. Even my grandchildren think so! Parents need to be more involved, but not in the way they are now. They are overly concerned about where their children place in comparison to other students, and they don't want to hear anything negative. I don't know how teachers put up with all the interference.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on August 15, 2018:

Hi Linda, I agree with you, and so appreciate your comments.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on August 14, 2018:

You've raised a lot of great points in this article, Pamela. Education is a very important part of a child or teenager's life. There are definitely problems that need to be solved in the school system.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on August 13, 2018:

Flourish, I wish they were more organized too. While some parents don't help, many people would love to be involved, and I think we need tha type of help. There is not many things more important than the education of our children.

FlourishAnyway from USA on August 13, 2018:

We absolutely need more teachers like your granddaughter. There are so many people who would love to help children get a quality education by reading, tutoring, donating books and supplies, etc. I wish the schools were more organized to connect good teachers like your granddaughter with those who want to help.

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