Understanding the American Education System Updated: August 08, The American education system offers a rich field of choices for international students. There is such an array of schools, programs and locations that the choices may overwhelm students, even those from the U. Understanding the system will help you narrow your choices and develop your education plan.
But few who debate the details of implementation have considered how this accountability system has begun to shift how we think about what schools should do. By basing sanctions solely on math and reading scores, the law creates incentives to limit — or in some cases to eliminate entirely — time spent on other important curricular objectives.
This reorientation of instruction disproportionately affects low-income and minority children, so achievement gaps may actually widen in areas for which schools are not now being held accountable. The shift in curricular coverage is also at odds with the consensus about the goals of public education to which Americans historically have subscribed.
More surprisingly, it is also starkly at odds with the apparent intentions of school board members and state legislators, who are responsible for implementing the policy, and with the intentions of the public whom these leaders represent.
We will discuss the evidence with regard to these intentions later in this article. For now, let us begin by documenting the goal displacement stimulated by NCLB. Meanwhile, time for social studies and science decreased. The Council for Basic Education surveyed school principals in several states in the fall of and found that principals in schools with high proportions of minorities were more likely to have reduced time for history, civics, geography, the arts, and foreign languages so that they could devote more time to math and reading.
In New York, for example, twice as many principals in high-minority schools reported such curricular shifts as did principals in mostly white schools. This is how one former teacher describes her changed classroom activities: From my experience of being an elementary school teacher at a low-performing urban school in Los Angeles, I can say that the pressure became so intense that we had to show how every single lesson we taught connected to a standard that was going to be tested.
This meant that art, music, and even science and social studies were not a priority and were hardly ever taught. We were forced to spend ninety percent of the instructional time on reading and math.
This made teaching boring for me and was a huge part of why I decided to leave the profession. They developed gradually in the s as states implemented similar accountability policies. A analysis by researchers at the University of Colorado found positive effects of higher math and reading standards, but these gains were offset by losses in other areas, especially in activities that developed citizenship, social responsibility, and cooperative behavior.
One Colorado teacher reported: Our district has told us to focus on reading, writing, and mathematics. In the past I had hatched out baby chicks in the classroom as part of a science unit. In testimony before a U.
Senator Robert Byrd D-W. It can hardly be considered a reasonable solution to have Congress mandate specific days of instruction for each of the many education goals now being deemphasized under the testing pressure of NCLB. The growing national diabetes epidemic also shows how accountability for math and reading alone can exacerbate inequity in other important aspects of schooling.
The incidence of the disease is even higher for Mexican Americans and Puerto Ricans. This, in turn, results partly from the substitution of greater test preparation in math and reading for gym classes. But because black students are less likely to have opportunities to participate in out-of-school sports, they also are more dependent on adequate physical education programs in school to protect their health.
Consequently, some may be having second thoughts. Robert Schwartz, for example, was the founding president of Achieve, Inc. The goal of equipping all students with a solid foundation of academic knowledge and skills is leading to an undue narrowing of curricular choices and a reduction in the kinds of learning opportunities for academically at-risk students that are most likely to engage and motivate them to take school seriously.
This is a painful acknowledgment from someone who considers himself a charter member of the standards movement. Responding to a report by the Thomas B. Even in the unlikely event that tests created for informational purposes only would serve as incentives to redirect teaching time back to science, the Spellings approach says nothing about the many other areas of knowledge and behavioral traits that are being dropped from curricula by schools held accountable only for math and reading.
A Historical Perspective The current overemphasis on basic academic skills is a historical aberration. Throughout American history, we have held a more expansive set of goals for our public schools.
When the Founders endorsed the need for public education, their motives were mostly political. Learning to read was less important than, and only a means toward, helping citizens make wise political decisions.
The Founders had no doubt that schools could produce students who exhibited these traits, and it would never have occurred to them that instruction in reading and arithmetic alone would guarantee good citizenship. Rather, Jefferson thought schools could prepare voters to think critically about candidates and their positions and then choose wisely.
Toward the end of his life, he proposed a public education system for the state of Virginia: To give to every citizen the information he needs for the transaction of his own business; to enable him to calculate for himself, and to express and preserve his ideas, his contracts and accounts in writing; to improve, by reading, his morals and faculties; to understand his duties to his neighbors and country, and to discharge with competence the functions confided to him by either; to know his rights; to exercise with order and justice those he retains, to choose with discretion the fiduciary of those he delegates; and to notice their conduct with diligence, with candor and judgment; and in general, to observe with intelligence and faithfulness all the social relations under which he shall be placed.
Anticipating by nearly two centuries our contemporary accountability policies, union leaders of the time feared that public schools for the poor would include only basic reading and arithmetic and not the more important intellectual development that could empower the working class.The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines scapegoat as one that bears the blame for others, or one that is the object of irrational hostility.
Those of us in the education profession would define scapegoat this way: teacher. Scapegoating teachers has become so popular with policymakers and politicians. Furthermore, during this exact same period a large portion of the Asian-American population moved from first-generation immigrant poverty into the ranks of the middle class, greatly raising their educational aspirations for their children.
Worse, among the 34 countries surveyed, the U.S. school system ranked fifth in spending per student, at $, That’s a hefty chunk of change for so-so results. PISA scores aren’t the only measure of an educational system, but most experts agree that American schools are in need of a major overhaul.
ASCA National Model FAQs Take a look through our frequently asked questions to see if it answers your questions. If not, use our Ask the Expert form to get your specific question about implementing the ASCA National Model answered. -5 Vaping in the American School System: An Insider's look.
The United States of America's school system has many flaws that need to be addressed and fixed, but one disturbingly common trend, is vaping while school is in session. The American education system offers a rich field of choices for international students. There is such an array of schools, programs and locations that the choices may overwhelm students, even those from the U.S.
As you begin your school search, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the .