.. ed in the class. In Spain, the students were taught to memorize a large amount of information and then master the facts that they had learned in the class. In San Mateo High School, teachers were not satisfied with these ways of teaching their students. They were trying to teach them to think and express their thoughts in the form of either writing or oral communication.
As a result of going to the California high school, David’s daughters were many times taken for the students from the private school, although they really went to a “very public” one. Because of the great emphasis on the weaknesses in the educational system of the U.S., critics tend to ignore its strengths and positive qualities. These teaching methods should not be considered “wrong”; they are just different. There are a lot of reasons for the U.S. to have the educational system that it has. The first reason, the presence of a diverse population in the U.S., appears to be a great challenge for most of the teachers.
“[Students] come to school today with different diets, different religions..different individual and group loyalties, different music, different languages” (Phi Delta Kappa 619). They make large inputs to the way teaching methods are changing in the U.S. and deserve fair feedback from their teachers. Thus, it becomes a very difficult task to try to provide equal education to unequal students. The other reasons for keeping the current educational system are: high poverty rates, increasing percentage of divorces, and the large amount of disabled children in the U.S.
(2.5 million children are classified as having learning disabilities (Sternberg 23)). All these social changes emotionally influence more than half of all students in the U.S. Thus, there is a great necessity for creating the curriculum that is not highly intensive and pays a lot of attention to the development of individuality. The problem is that this, of course, automatically creates a large number of talented students that are “tracked” into this type of curriculum. On the other hand, the results of the Advanced Placement (AP) and Graduate Record Examination (GRE) tests showed that most of the top students do not need as much effort from the educational system as “poor” students do (on the GRE the mean verbal score increased by 16 points, the mean quantitative score – by 36 points, and the mean analytical score – by 30 points (Phi Delta Kappa 623)).
Yet, due to the educational system, the level of academic achievements in the U.S. is not high enough when compared to most of the European and Asian countries. Still, a fair amount of attention should be paid to the positive qualities of American education. First, the U.S. government devotes 3.5 percent of GDP to the public funding of education (Nelson).
These expenditures are above average. Second, the school year (180 days) is short when compared to a school year of 240 days in Japan. Nevertheless, the college programs in the U.S. are so intensive, that for the same number of years, American students get the same amount of education while having 60 days less each school year. Furthermore, the U.S.
colleges attract the large number of foreign students which proves the high value of American education in the world. Talking about the weaknesses of the U.S. education, people tend to use the results of standardized tests as an example and support of their point of view. But not many people actually know the real results of entrance college examinations such as the ACT or SAT. According to the results on The 1997 ACT High School Profile Report web page, the national average score on the ACT rose from 20.9 points in 1996 to 21.0 in 1997 (the maximum score is 36 points). One will say that the progress is not really significant, but for such a big nation as the U.S.
this change means a noticeable improvement. Moreover, this is not all of the good news about the standardized tests. The results have increased even higher in some of the states and specific schools. For example, Wisconsin students had the highest average score in the nation (22.1 points compared to 21.6 last year), and Christian High School Briarcrest in Memphis, Tennessee, had the class with the average score of 23.0 in 1996 (Online). Obviously, there was enough proof presented to provide a fair defense to the efficiency of the teaching methods in the U.S. schools.
Then the question arises: “What is the reason of the poor performance of American students?” Perhaps the main factor that directly influences the decline of the students’ performance is the attitude the students themselves have toward their studies and education in general. Interesting facts were revealed during an interview with Maxim Sinitsyn, an instructor of Economics 112 at the Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville (SIUE). He allows his students to retake all the quizzes and tests if they do poorly on them. Out of 120 students (two sections), only three students were really concerned about their grades and came to retake the test after spending more time preparing for it. However, the most interesting fact is that about 10% of the class received failing grades. This tells us that most of the students either do not care about their grades at all or just do not try to improve their results when they are given an opportunity to do so.
Here are some other statistical facts that are based on the survey of 250,000 freshmen from 464 institutions: “.. 36.0% say that they were frequently ‘bored in the class’.. 34.5% say they missed class or an appointment because they overslept .. only 33.9% in 1997 spent six or more hours a week studying or doing homework ..” (McEachern 1). This survey has been conducted every year, and, every year, the results are getting worse.
Of course, to find a solution to the problem that centers on the apathetic attitude of the students toward education is almost an impossible task because it is impractical to make the students study better. Yet, a good idea could be to increase the requirements in the nation’s high schools, especially the homework requirements. Home assignments help to review the new material studied in class, increase understanding, correct errors, and give a good opportunity to practice (Berkowitz 46). If all these purposes of homework were accomplished, the performance of the students would greatly improve. Also, the increase in the number of classes that students take during the school year would keep them busier and leave less free time for doing the “wrong” things. Students in the U.S.
schools are treated more carefully than students in other countries. They are provided with enthusiastic teachers and perfect equipment, with a variety of financial aid programs that are available in most of the schools, and, finally, with a lot of opportunities to succeed in their studies; in most of the schools, especially private ones, each student will get an individual approach. For example, “if you need special testing conditions, such as enlarged type or extended time, you [may] provide documentation of your disability to the College Board or American College Testing” (Smith 14). It is absurd not to use all these opportunities and to waste time and money trying to get any education just to assure oneself of having a high salary, forgetting that the real purpose of education is getting more knowledge and increasing one’s ability to function more effectively in the society. The government aims its efforts to raise the overall level of education in the United States, and, by doing this, it hopes to bring the whole country forward in its quest for prosperity. To accomplish this goal should not only be the government’s, but also the whole society’s striving.
Since the level of education is one of the most important determinants of the nation’s standard of living, everybody in this country has to assume these responsibilities in order to make any educational reforms proposed by the government successful. Bibliography “Academic Information.” ACT Information School Profile (Class of 1996): n. pag. Online. Internet. 30 Mar.
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