I read a report recently addressing 4 problems we have to solve in order to rectify educational inequality (listed below) and then 4 promising trends to look at for addressing them. The full report can be found here.
The challenge, as they stated it:
“We all know that every single child should receive a high-quality education. Not only is it the ticket to opportunity in America and around the world, but also research has shown clearly that there are life-limiting implications for children who are not adequately educated. We also know, however (in fact, we’ve known for decades), that in the United States, we’re falling far short of this goal. In the past 25 years, there have been many valiant efforts to reform our schools, and some small-scale successes, but it is clear that we need to move farther and faster. High school graduation rates are near-flat from 1976 to 2007. So are National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) and SAT (formerly Scholastic Aptitude Test) scores. The picture gets even worse when you look at minorities’ chances at succeeding in our country’s education system: While African Americans make up 41 percent of the U.S. prison population, they make up only 12 percent of people living on college campuses. We need to transform the educational system in this country within a generation, ready or not. Our children’s future and our global competitiveness demand nothing less.”
The 4 problems they lay out:
Problem #1: Lack of personalization of content
Students are sorted by age and progress based on the calendar (a concept known as “seat time”) regardless of their personal needs and interests. As a result, many spend a lot of time unproductively.
Problem #2: Lack of appeal to different learning styles
Students are offered one mode of learning—the traditional classroom setting, with 25-30 students and one teacher—despite documented proof of the value of differentiation in learning.
Problem #3: Inability of teachers to play to their true strengths.
The vast majority of teachers are expected to be “generalists” —instructing a classroom full of students en masse, sometimes on a wide variety of topics—despite the fact that individual teachers possess different strengths and specialties.
Problem #4: Lack of effective reforms at a reasonable cost
Reforms and interventions to date have not been able to achieve quality results for students at a cost that permits them to expand their reach, and increase their impact, in tight budget environments.
Do you agree that these are the most substantial challenges we are facing?
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