Does America really care about education? On the face of it, we seem to. We spend more money on it than anyone, it's in every candidate's platform, and parents for the most part seem to care as well.
But the results don't bear this out. American students are nowhere near the top of the global rankings. So what's not working?
There's this universal truth - you are what you measure.
And how does America measure education? Standardized tests.
And here is where that's gotten us: 20% high school drop out rates, 1.3 million (yes, million) high school graduates in remedial classes to bring them up to the bare minimum readiness for university, 93% of American teachers with little or no science training, the list goes on.
According to the NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress), Massachusetts ranks #1 in academic performance in the United States, and yet only 75% of her students graduate from high school.
If you're interested in how NAEP tests our children - give it a go - the tests are embarrassingly easy, seeming almost to be "rigged" to increase the passing rates, and yet we still suck.
So what have I/we learned?
What can we do?
- Define more pragmatic and relevant measures of success (suggestions below)
- Pay for performance
- Recognize that resistance to #2 is likely to come from the institutions as well as the unions that represent interested parties
- Get the next President to care and make one of his top 3 priorities
- Participate - all of us must be pushy and demanding
Suggested measures of success:
This is just 30 minutes' work to jot this down. I imagine there are many people much smarter and more knowledgeable that could come up with a SIMPLE and CLEAR way to measure school performance, and then a simple and effective way to incent the desired behavior.