“She’s smarter than me!” That’s what some younger students scream when they see one of their peers get a better grade. But, if you listen closely, you’ll hear the collective groan of millions of young American students scream: “They’re smarter than us!”
The “they” is pretty much everyone else who doesn’t pledge allegiance to the flag with 13 stripes.
Somewhere between the arguments and counterarguments of “This is the way education should be,” our quality of education started declining rapidly. It has been steadily declining since WWII, and now, it’s beginning to become quite alarming.
When compared to other developed nations, American students fall in the middle of the pack, according to a study released by the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE) in 2009. The NCEE researched and compared education systems around the world, considering 15-year-old students in 70 countries.
In its Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) report, the NCEE concluded that the United States ranked 14th in reading, 17th in science and 25th in mathematics, according to the US News & World Report. In Canada, the average 15-year-old is at least one grade ahead of the average American 15-year old, according to the New York Times.
But, it gets worse: only about 70 percent of American students graduate from high school, which is well below the rates in many foreign countries. Only Spain, Mexico, New Zealand and Turkey have lower graduation rates.
South Korea boosts the highest high school graduation rate at 96 percent, which has helped the country flourish into an economic super power. Finland is considered to have the best education system, mainly because it focuses on hiring and training the intellectually-gifted to become great teachers.
China, Japan and Singapore are also considered to have excellent education systems.
The NCEE also recommends that we should require students to pass certain “gateway” tests at grade levels before moving on to the next grade. “Gateway tests” are very well-designed, comprehensive standardized tests in other countries – accurately portraying if a student is ready for the next grade.
Many schools have some form of gateway test or they require students to earn certain grades before moving on. But, unlike other, foreign countries, there is no standardized “gateway test” that all students must pass.
Many believe our culture is the root of the problem. American kids do what they want, when they want, because they want to – and very few step up to tell them what they have to do and what they should do. Kids have no desire to go to school and succeed; so they don’t. Perhaps with a tutor we can change this perspective for our kids. Tutoring prices don’t even have to be a concern because tutors will work with your budget.
Others believe that the lack of support for teachers causes this problem. In other foreign countries, there is a certain esteem held for teachers, and they are paid very well – especially in Finland. But, in America, teachers are not held in high-regard, and it’s often a profession the intellectually-gifted shy away from.
So, what should the United States do to fix the educational crisis? For one, we can start by raising our academic standards. By raising the bar on our standardized testing and declaring the importance of studying, new windows will be open for the ambition to study, learn and grow academically. The quality of our teachers is also a huge factor. We are not valuing our teachers or giving them credit they deserve for the effort they put into educating students, so in return they do not have the zeal to make known to students the importance of their education in the big world. Pushing students to work and stretch their brains will entice them to stretch their minds and open their eyes to the sort of learning abilities they have.This guest post article was written and provided by Janice Mitchell who is a stay at home mother and has homeschooled her children with the help of VarsityTutors.com for over 10 years.