Kamis, 08 Maret 2012

US Students Not Behind the Rest of the World

We are told by the UN that the United States ranks below the 35th country for the best education, based on the test results, but I'd like to challenge the statistics and data, as I think those who portray all this as fact, have indeed left some of the criteria and facts on the table. Realize too, I think we can do much better, while still drastically reducing the runaway costs of education, most of which is indeed legacy costs.
Not long ago, I read the book "Linking Teacher Evaluation and Student Learning," by Palela D. Tucker and James H Stronge, published by the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, Alexandria VA, 175 pages, ISBN: 1-4166-0032-9. Although there were some great ideas in that book having to do with its title, something we all know is desperately needed, it just won't happen due to the strength of the teacher's unions. They've tried in many places in the US, in DC, NJ, CA, IL, and other locals, but the unions are too strong.
So, how are we doing on the No Child Left Behind Act? It's getting harder and harder to tell as so many states have received waivers from the Obama Administration, mostly at the request of teachers unions, but some parents too. Obviously, things need readjusting in that regard. Still, who says our quality of students is not severely challenged with so many students who are learning English as a second language, while we use tricky test questions to purposely trip them up, perhaps so really intelligent students don't get too cocky or develop a high-level self-esteem for their personal academic achievements.
For instance in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) there was an interesting article titled; "SAT Scores Fall as More Students Take Exam," by Stephanie Banchero published on September 25, 2012 which noted that; "28% of test takers reported that English wasn't their first language." So, just by the title and that one sentence you might begin to see what I am saying here. Plus, in another example also in the WSJ on September 22, 2012; "Are We Really Getting Smarter? Americans' IQ scores have risen steadily over the past century," by James R. Flynn, summarizes this reality as well.
So, who is right and who is wrong? The socialist Nordic countries love to show that their students are smarter. I disagree completely. In fact, I'd say our white students in the US can easily match their test scores. Just as our Asian students can match the test scores in South Korea, China, and Japan within a couple of percentile, and if you compare the amount of time our students spend in the classroom and studying, I'd say hour-for-hour, American Asian students are actually much smarter over all.
What I am saying is that although we have cost challenges and must deal with the absurd demands of teachers unions, in the end we must compare apples to apples before we take a bite of the UN's purported data. Please consider all this and think on it.

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