Educational excellence has become a moving target. While basic skills such as reading, writing and math will likely remain at the core of the curriculum, the abilities built on this foundation continue to change with our society.
As people seek to adjust to these changes, to find their footing in this continually evolving context, they turn to education for assistance and for reassurance about the future. As they enter the work force, adults have seen the need for more and better education for themselves. The result has been increased expectations of our education system, particularly as indicated by levels of student achievement.
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|How is education doing in the U.S.?|
This graph, taken from The Education Commission of the States', Bridging the Gap, clearly shows the rising achievement levels of students in recent years. Education in the U.S. IS improving. The issue is that educational improvement is not keeping pace with public expectations. Many American schools are doing the best job of educating children in their history, but theyre not changing fast enough to keep up with the demands of the worlds economy and the expectations of the American public. This figure illustrates the central public policy challenge of education reform in the current political environment.
|Where are the expectations of education coming from?|
Many of these expectations are coming from personal experience. Parents and community members working in the shifting economic environment are turning to schools to provide education for students which will equip them for a more internationally competitive workplace in which skilled workers are the norm.
However, many parents and community members are disappointed by the results which they see around them. Research indicates that most youths dont find their way into the primary job market until they are in their late twenties. Although more than 62% of high school grads go to college, by age 25 only 25% earn a BA, 5% earn an associates degree. In 1991 only 27% of male high school dropouts age 16-24 were employed full-time and 47% of African-American men in the group had NO work experience. This state of affairs is impacting on our societys views of education, and not only in the adult population.
Education Daily reported on August 19, 1996 that teens opinions of schools are dropping. According to a once-per-decade survey conducted by the National Association of Secondary School Principals, 75% of teens polled gave their schools as A or B in 1983. By 1996 this figure had dropped to 66%.
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