Prompt: What are three major problems with American Public Education and what is the best solution to these problems?
While the American Public Education system is intrinsically flawed by simply being owned by a utilitarian government, there are specific key problems that derive from this. The primary issue being the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, proposed by the George Bush administration immediately after taking office.1 This initiated standards-based education reform, which is the notion that raising standards and establishing a way of measuring them can improve the performance of students. This obligated the teachers in the Public Education system to “teach to the test,” lest their school lose funding. The No Child Left Behind Act gives incentives against the gifted and high-performing students. Given that the schools are only required to make the minimum requirements for their district, the schools may cancel any programs catering to the exceptional and provide for the majority of students who (without additional help) may not meet the local standard. The final issue is that of standardized inconsistency (oxymoron), in which the level to which a school must perform to a local standard, rather than a state or national standard. This can engender disparate intelligence levels between states. For all of these reasons, the Public Education system is flawed.
I. Background Paragraph : No Child Left Behind Act
A. The No Child Left Behind Act provides financial and practical incentives for teachers to ignore their responsibility to ensure the students grasp the subject wholly, rather they teach for what can be quantified in a standardized test grade.
B. The No Child Left Behind Act forces state governments to invest money to comply with the requirements of NCLB even during the greatest fiscal crisis since the great depression.
C. The No Child Left Behind Act represents an entire year of teaching a subject into one test. Therefore various factors, whether they be characteristic of the student or common amongst the board may affect the ultimate outcome of the test, and thus the success of the school.
D. Standardized tests, which is the only assessment the national government uses, do not accurately depict the knowledge/understanding of the student. (See more on testing in following paragraph).
E. Given the disparate consequences that may occur (for the student and the state) for a difference of score varying by one point, the level of importance per question is too great.
II. Testing: Effectiveness
1. The extent to which a test measures a students knowledge varies
1. Therefore, testing should not be the type of assessment because of its variability.
2. (Above) Education should not be left up to chance more than it already is (innate intelligence). Your location in the country should not determine your education.
3. Testing is specialized, and when ones knowledge of a subject does on coincide with the specialized knowledge needed for passing the test. It is not accounted for.
4. As mentioned before, testing can make teachers to cut corners, and only teach what’s on the test.
III. Failing the gifted
1. With NCLB, the state makes teachers focus on those who need the most help.
2. This is wrong because those who are understand easier may begin to dislike the system.
3. This is due to the utilitarian style of government, catering to the infamous bell curve.
4. If a fraction of a percent of financial aid to schools who needed to meet standards were given to the gifted, their requirements (although not a priority from a utilitarian view) would be met.
5. What is taught in order to meet the requirements of the state may not coincide with the interest of the students, and therefore, both the interest level is lowered and (assuming a moderate diligence level) the requirements will not be met.
Because every student has an interest, and because the derivation of that interest is one or more likely a combination of the key subjects taught in school, a student should learn their interests. In order to fix the education issue, the interests of each individual student must be prioritized, if that is not practical, the majority. The tests must be created by the teachers in order for the teachers to allow meandering around the “recommended” path of that subject. Standards must be eliminated, and schools must undergo an experimental process in which they examine the effectiveness of different teaching techniques. The attention of the teacher must focus on the majority, but the students who understand easier than others must be allowed to go on their on way.
1 “Fact Sheet on the Major Provisions of the Conference Report to H.R. 1, the No Child Left Behind Act.” U.S. Department of Education. http://www2.ed.gov/nclb/overview/intro/factsheet.html. 1/25/10