Preparing for Change in the US Education System

Education in the US has been undergoing a major rethink for many years. For many it has been a crisis situation, with increasing dropout rates, falling grades and higher stress levels for students than ever before. Add global competition to the mix and US school students have not been faring well in many fields.

Federal and state programs

The US government has led a number of initiatives on improving this status, with the most prominent being the No Child Left Behind program started by President George W. Bush. While this program does give the incentive and tools to propel students to a better education, there are many loopholes and drawbacks which have yet to be addressed. The Education Trust has been on the forefront of improving educational standards and focuses specifically on the partnership between K-12 education and colleges. Also part of our education system is our armed forces, read The United States Military and Higher Education for further details and information.

The Obama administration is working to increase early childhood programs, emphasizing teacher training and recruitment processes, encouraging charter schools and increasing access to college. Besides the federal government, there are many organizations that offer services to improve teaching practices, assessing at-risk students and developing a stronger bond between school, communities and families.

In 2008, the National Governors Association funded a National Education Summit on High Schools, which showed the urgent need to improve the educational system. At present, only 68% of ninth graders will graduate from high school and less than 20% will graduate from college. On the other hand, more than 80% of jobs in the fast growing sectors will require higher education.

Focus on rules or academics?

According to research, it has been found that high performing schools tend to focus only on academics, while average schools tend to focus only on the rules. The difference is that one type of school prepares students for their lives after high school, while the other simply prepares students for graduation. The bulk of US schools fall in the second category and this has been a major focus of the changes in the education system.

Valuing our teachers

Teacher training and evaluation has been one of the areas found lacking in the education system in the US, and this is one of the key aspects of changing how schools prepare their students for higher education. Schools and teachers who have introduced benchmarking systems to compare standards have shown improved results. In essence, teacher involvement is the key to improving school education. Noted writer Thomas Friedman suggested that teachers should be exempted from paying income tax and those teaching math and science should have their salaries doubled, as a way to stress the value of teachers to the educational system.

The requirements from students have also been steadily increasing, to ensure that they achieve higher scores, get admission into colleges, get better jobs and are able to compete with workers from across the world. Encouraging students to achieve, regardless of their previous performance, has shown very positive results in many schools.

The rise of study programs

There has been a significant increase in the number of study programs for students in the US. Most of these programs prepare students for college, but many are for middle school students hoping to get into elite schools as well. The way students study, their curriculum and the increasing emphasis on academics are the trends evident in the education system.

Many colleges say that admission tests like the SAT and ACT are not the best determiners for college admission as these tests are not good predictors of academics at the college level. So the deciding factors for these colleges are high school grade point averages. A new type of achievement test is what is needed to predict college grades, so students can remain focused on their high school curriculum instead of test preparation courses. For further information regarding higher education, please read The Advantages of Obtaining a College Degree.

The reducing age of computer users

The age at which students begin to use computers has been dropping rapidly and now most elementary and middle school students are confident of using computers. Many early childhood programs incorporate computers as early as kindergarten, but as a way to make learning fun and usually not for educational or teaching purposes.



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