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    #235394 - 12/10/16 07:10 PM Education in the United States
    LAF Offline
    Member

    Registered: 06/15/14
    Posts: 469
    So… I've been reading that the US is not as advanced as a lot of other nations with regard to education (at least according to an International test.) And not only are we behind Singapore and China but Finland and Canada also place higher. I have been learning that many of our brightest minds are brought in from other countries. Michio Kaku says that our educational system is stuck in the 1950s. I am curious, in your opinions what would have to happen to fix our educational system? I have a friend from China who said that the kids there are pushed so hard to excel that they are burnt out by the time they get to college, so I don't think pushing kids too hard is the right idea- but I don't really imagine that's happening in Canada. I think creativity is important as well. I am just wondering if anyone on these boards has an idea what should be happening in the US.

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    #235396 - 12/10/16 10:12 PM Re: Education in the United States [Re: LAF]
    indigo Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/27/13
    Posts: 4902
    Originally Posted By: LAF
    So… I've been reading that the US is not as advanced as a lot of other nations with regard to education (at least according to an International test.)
    Most likely you are speaking of the PISA? PISA 2015 Results as presented Dec 6, 2016.

    Originally Posted By: LAF
    I have been learning that many of our brightest minds are brought in from other countries.
    Meanwhile many young US citizens with the brightest minds are being manipulated to "even out" in order to "close achievement gaps" and "close excellence gaps". Some may find this ironic.

    Originally Posted By: LAF
    Michio Kaku says that our educational system is stuck in the 1950s.
    Dr. Michio Kaku's bigthink blog is here, and his website is here; These provide some background and context for his viewpoints.

    Originally Posted By: LAF
    I am curious, in your opinions what would have to happen to fix our educational system? ... I am just wondering if anyone on these boards has an idea what should be happening in the US.
    Some past threads on PISA, and the comparative pros-and-cons of various international approaches to education include:
    - 2012 PISA results are out,
    -The Pleasures of Teaching to the Test,
    - School in Finland gets more like homeschool,
    - The Bright Students Left Behind,
    -Seattle Public Schools to end tracking.

    Current US policy which strives to close achievement gaps and excellence gaps often does so by capping the growth of students at the top, including gifted students. IMO, the antidote is cluster grouping students by readiness and ability regardless of chronological age. The focus must change from equal outcomes to equal opportunities, while acknowledging that some may be more motivated to utilize the opportunities presented... which often requires both hard work and sacrifice. Students must be encouraged to foster their internal locus of control.

    One might also wish to look at various characteristics of students in countries which are said to be scoring higher on the PISA, such as percent of student body which are immigrants (both legal and undocumented/illegal), percent of children age 6-15 who attend school, percent of student body which participates in the testing.

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    #235397 - 12/11/16 03:54 AM Re: Education in the United States [Re: LAF]
    Bostonian Offline
    Member

    Registered: 02/14/10
    Posts: 2636
    Loc: MA
    Originally Posted By: LAF
    So… I've been reading that the US is not as advanced as a lot of other nations with regard to education (at least according to an International test.) And not only are we behind Singapore and China but Finland and Canada also place higher.

    The Chinese do well academically, but so do Chinese-Americans in the U.S.. White Americans do better than most Europeans. When you control for race, U.S. test scores are pretty good. You can look at the graphic "2012 Pisa Overall Scores" at http://www.unz.com/isteve/new-pisa-test-results/ for the statistics behind these assertions.
    _________________________
    "To see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle." - George Orwell

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    #235398 - 12/11/16 05:38 AM Re: Education in the United States [Re: LAF]
    Platypus101 Offline
    Member

    Registered: 10/01/14
    Posts: 675
    Loc: Canada
    OK, I'll bite. I've read a lot about PISA and standardized testing, trying to understand what does and doesn't impact these scores. Given our own extreme frustrations with our school system, I have to admit I am always a little startled when Canada ranks so high.

    I think the simple answer is that Canada, comparatively speaking, lacks the extremes of the US in education (and in most domains, for that matter). The US has extraordinarily great schools - and extraordinarily bad ones. In Canada, what we have is consistency: pretty much universally OK schools. They serve the vast majority of students reasonably well. They can be pretty bad with academic outliers, but they (mostly) offer consistency across SES and other domains. Yes, of course we do have some schools full of children from poor families, or new immigrants, or other marginalized populations, and they're not doing as well as they could be, and we could do way more and better. But at least those kids are getting the same as everyone else, not less. In our district, our low achievers link a lot more to unremediated LDs than to poverty.

    In contrast, I have seen a lot of research along the lines of what's summarized in this article: http://www.theatlantic.com/business/arch...of-race/408085/

    Here I am going to attempt to tread carefully, as I don't want to divert this thread into politics, but it's hard to avoid, as the education system as a whole is such a small piece of educational outcomes. So the more complex answer to why Canada can manage this consistency is that we do a lot to even things out long before children ever hit school. We have less poverty, and we do a lot to reduce its impact, especially on kids. We have one-year paid parental leave, universal health care (so good preventative care, but also no financial issues from catastrophic costs), as well as other pieces of the social safety network. We pay teachers very well, and subsidize daycare. (PISA says teacher pay isn't crucial, but my impression is that teacher salaries in the US are unusually low). Our system for community sponsorship and support of new immigrants is getting a lot of attention lately for how well it gets newcomer families up and running and fully functional in society. There's lots of pieces like this, all aimed at putting some money in up front, so that in the long run, more people are more fully engaged in society, and better employed, for more of their lives. As a re-read this, it sounds like socialism run amuck, but actually it costs a lot less in the long run.

    This isn't intended to sound like some smug look-how-great-we-are. It's hardly utopia up here, just a different model. We screw up lots, all the time. I spend much of my time ranting about all the things we do wrong. And the Canadian obsession with equity makes us awful at dealing with outliers. Tall poppy syndrome, big time. I drool, often, about some of the opportunities I read about in this forum. And of course lots of people still do fall through the cracks. But when they do, most don't fall quite as far, and there's more ways for them to find their way back up. The result is that when I just did a quick google of "social mobility Canada vs US", I found pretty broad agreement that children born in poverty in Canada are far less likely to stay there. So all that to say, if you want to improve US educational outcomes, the challenge is far more complex than curriculum (ours, for the record, sucks. We are most definitely NOT "pushing too hard". We do great in PISA anyways).

    If this derails this thread, I will apologize and immediately delete. I have spent an awful lot of time pondering this question, but I know politics is pretty raw right now, and it is not my intent to inflame.

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    #235399 - 12/11/16 06:17 AM Re: Education in the United States [Re: LAF]
    ruazkaz Offline
    Member

    Registered: 08/23/12
    Posts: 128
    I think indigo's recommendation would work, or at least significantly improve education in the US, but politically it is very difficult due to the links between performance/SES/race.

    DS has learned math primarily through independent study online and I wonder if accelerated kids could not have more of their learning via online resources enabling a higher teacher:student ratio, freeing up teachers to spend more time on kids that are not performing as they should. The disadvantage is that accelerated kids would have less teacher instruction but at least they would get more challenging material and be able to work at their own pace.

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    #235400 - 12/11/16 06:35 AM Re: Education in the United States [Re: Platypus101]
    indigo Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/27/13
    Posts: 4902
    Originally Posted By: Platypus101
    The US has extraordinarily great schools - and extraordinarily bad ones.
    Unfortunately, the "greatness" of a school is measured by the performance of its students. A reluctant student body, not encouraged at home to embrace the struggle of academic challenge, nor to master self-discipline, may lag behind in academic/intellectual performance and achievement as compared with students from homes which value education (including the struggle and self-discipline, hard work and sacrifice inherent in academic challenge).

    Originally Posted By: Platypus101
    the education system as a whole is such a small piece of educational outcomes.
    Agreed!

    Originally Posted By: Platypus101
    putting some money in up front, so that in the long run, more people are more fully engaged in society, and better employed, for more of their lives.
    Some may say that the US puts in so much money "up front" that some parents may find receiving those funds to be more palatable than engaging in society, becoming employed, and taking on tasks such as volunteerism to help others... all of which involve risk of "failure", including subjecting one's self to competition, and being evaluated by others.

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    #235401 - 12/11/16 06:43 AM Re: Education in the United States [Re: LAF]
    ruazkaz Offline
    Member

    Registered: 08/23/12
    Posts: 128
    Before DS began school I was not in favor of taxpayers spending significant funds on preK programs for kids from lower income families. I have always felt that if parents are going to have kids they need to invest the time in raising the children, it is not for the taxpayers to do this for them.

    After a few years in the school systems I think something must be done to try and bring these kids up to a higher level when they begin Kindergarten so at this stage I am very supportive of more spending up front.

    Recently, we toured a boarding school that my son is applying to and it was interesting to note that very few classrooms had smartboards (actually I did not see one but presumably some might have them), instead chalkboards or whiteboards. In our area there is a movement to ensure every classroom has the latest technology and I have always felt like it was a waste of money.

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    #235402 - 12/11/16 07:52 AM Re: Education in the United States [Re: ruazkaz]
    indigo Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/27/13
    Posts: 4902
    Originally Posted By: ruazkaz
    I am very supportive of more spending up front.
    On what, specifically? For example, on encouraging parents to value education (including the struggle and self-discipline, hard work and sacrifice inherent in academic challenge) so that they both role model and support their children in embracing academic challenge? Or spending on programs and policies intended to provide "equal outcomes" regardless of effort in parenting and studying/learning?

    Early research (Hart & Risley) showed the lasting value from positive parental interaction with a child. More recent studies (Head Start) indicated that any gains from early childhood programs tend to disappear by 3rd grade. Here is a roundup of prior discussions which touched on this:
    - This old post has links to information on both studies.
    - The work of Hart/Risley has been mentioned/summarized/linked to in these old posts: 1, 2, 3.

    Originally Posted By: ruazkaz
    Recently, we toured a boarding school that my son is applying to and it was interesting to note that very few classrooms had smartboards (actually I did not see one but presumably some might have them), instead chalkboards or whiteboards. In our area there is a movement to ensure every classroom has the latest technology and I have always felt like it was a waste of money.
    I would tend to agree as most homeschools would not be early adopters of technology such as smartboards and yet homeschooled children tend to perform/achieve quite well. I do believe that exposure to some form of technology is important... whether laptops, i-pads, i-pods, online exercises/classes, smart phones, apps, fit-bits, etc, and I believe that learning typing/keyboarding skills is important. That said, I am a proponent of books, as they offer advantages such as stability of content, publication history (version, copyright date, author/s, ISBN), ability to thumb through, and no data tracking of readers.

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    #235403 - 12/11/16 08:10 AM Re: Education in the United States [Re: LAF]
    ruazkaz Offline
    Member

    Registered: 08/23/12
    Posts: 128
    I doubt you could change parental behavior so would rather put funds into something along the lines of HeadStart, although I am surprised that any gains disappear by 3rd grade...both surprising and depressing.

    In our area there is a ongoing effort to re-integrate the largest school district as there is a concentration of poverty. The kids that are from families with funds will simply move so I do not think this will have any overall positive impact. What is interesting is primarily it is a conversation about blacks/whites whereas if you go to any advanced academic competition Asians comprise 90%+ despite only comprising 5-6% of the population in the schools.

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    #235404 - 12/11/16 08:47 AM Re: Education in the United States [Re: ruazkaz]
    indigo Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/27/13
    Posts: 4902
    While some may form rather insular groups by ethnicity, and not assimilate, I prefer to focus on individual motivation, to the degree that is possible when the topic is how children achieve/perform as a whole, by country, and by demographic.

    While some may find it difficult to change parental behavior, the qualifications to receive government funding (collected from taxpayers and redistributed) could change, rewarding desired behavior. There is an old saying, "What you reward, you get more of." ***

    These choices may detract from, or negatively impact, the level of in-home educational support for these children.

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