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Regarding the education system in the United States, what is considered the primary downfall in student performance?

Factors may include:

- Teacher Experience
- Culture (regional)
- Lack of student-teacher communication
- Attendance
- Dependence on advanced technology
- Environment

  • Feb 25 2014: The whole system sucks from beginning to end, scrap it and have students and people under 30 redesign it. Keep the government, lawyers and corporate parasites out of it. We need a system that works for today's needs not the needs of a generation dead and gone two hundred years ago.

    It is not the students who are failing it is us who are failing them. They are doing exactly what we are teaching them.
  • Feb 28 2014: Charles Hunsinger

    I would like to expand your Factor list. After bringing four sons through school, from kindergarten to college I have some thoughts on the subject. I would include some stand-in teaching at the university level, as well.
    I am of the opinion that our (USA) educational system has failed. This position can be validated by numerous surveys and "educated" opinion.
    Your factor list left out the unions, the globalist mindset, the lack of expectation, the lack of discipline and the admission of promiscuity. There is an absence of local control, a federalization, perhaps. We must look to the break up of the family, a societal view, which places importance on the physical and emotional aspects with a disregard for intellectual achievement.
    The emasculation and seeming dismissal of the male, the growth of an addicted society, an entitled society add too, to the failure. There, most certainly, are more 'factors', but for now this shall suffice. One more thing that I feel sums up a great deal of the factors not yet noted and some noted; our schools teach weakness, victimhood, guilt and subservience. Strength, pride and respect for this nation, its heritage, culture and once greatness have been deemed uninclusive removing a critical piece of the foundation necessary for positive reinforcement..
    You mention the down fall of student performance. This is that mole that does not go away and turns darker and darker. The mole however, is not the factor, but a symptom of a malignant melanoma. Poor student performance is, quite possibly, a symptom of malignant teaching, parenting and a demoralized society.
    It was interesting to watch the teacher union protests that took place in Wisconsin a year or so ago, and too, the striking teachers in Chicago. As these people marched and or chanted some moronic and childish rhyme they appeared slovenly, most demonstrated no ability to articulate the English language and wording on signs were misspelled. These are teachers?
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    Feb 26 2014: To add a couple more issues, the frequent changes in curriculum teachers are expected to teach and the way oversight of teachers and schools plays out makes teaching more difficult and less flexible or efficient than it would otherwise be. This is too long a story, perhaps, to be of interest for your inquiry.

    Considered over a span of decades, administrative philosophy cycles, it seems, from differentiating instruction (matching instructional methods, pace, and materials to the particular needs of students) to a standardized approach, (more one-size-fits-all) that some expect to have more equitable results. Every teacher wants to customize to the needs of individuals, I believe, or at least to the group before her, but that is not always what administrators prefer, as there is often fear that such an approach may under-estimate the level of rigor the lowest-performing students might be able to handle.
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    Mar 1 2014: This contribution is pure copy and paste. I feel the authors below have done an excellent job in answering the question:

    If a school student is performing less well than before, or less well than reasonably expected, this can be due to a number of causes. Some of these are:

    •Poor eyesight. If the student can not see the board, he or she can not achieve to potential. This can become a problem if the student is now sitting farther from the board than previously.

    •Poor hearing. The student may not be able to hear the teacher properly.

    •School bullying. If the student is being bullied at school, this can affect academic performance.

    •Problems at home. While not the most common problem, this can interfere with concentration.

    •Excessive ambition can result in frustration, leading to a lack of trying. This can result from parental pressure.

    •Lack of motivation. This is the opposite to excessive ambition. The child needs to understand the importance of good grades. An older child should begin to look forward to a future career and be able to connect good grades with the achievement of career ambitions.

    •Puberty. Sometimes, hormonal changes can temporarily affect performance. So can emerging interest in the opposite sex, as can a lack of self esteem.

    I believe the failure of the educational system to address the most pressing needs of the 21st Centrury is one of the most important issues of our time. I'm so glad a lot of concerned citizens are participating in the discussion.

    I hope there will be more ideas on how to make higher education affordable, sustainable, and relevant.
  • Mar 1 2014: You assume that the entire system is failing, which it is not. There are issues most definitely. Consider that educators are not the ones involved in policy making for education. The government is for starters.

    Look at the economically gifted areas of the United States. They aren't failing. They are doing quite well. In fact, they have all the bells and whistles that they could possibly want. Granted, under ever changing standards, put forth by the governments, they may also be failing, but they still produce high quality products.

    Compare that to schools of poverty. They are failing. Why? They have nothing and funds don't get distributed to their schools for starters. Compare a wealthy school and a poor school side by side and tell me which one you would send your child to.

    You don't even begin to consider the basic needs of the children entering school. Children are entering at a survival level of existence. They aren't even prepared to learn because they are worried about basic needs. Is that the failure on the part of the school? Maybe parents are failing.

    What about universities? The poor are being priced out of attendance at university. Rich folks can still send their kids to school, but not poor folks. Even the middle class can't get help because they make to much. Is that the failure of the school that a qualified kid can't afford to get in?

    Fritzie points out some very important issues as well in the ever changing land scape of education. Give teachers and students a target that is not moving and they have a better chance of hitting it than the ever moving target that exists right now.
    • Mar 1 2014: If you are referring to my Post Everett I make no such assumption. I state my position quite emphatically; the educational system in the USA has failed. There are certain "thruths" that I like to cling to and that is, perfection does not exist, equality does not exist and nothing is a 100%. Referring to the latter truth there are small pockets of intelligence left within the teaching community and I would acknowledge that.
      As a nation we spend over $15,000 per student and this is the result.

      "In mathematics, 29 nations and other jurisdictions outperformed the United States by a statistically significant margin, up from 23 three years ago," reports Education Week. "In science, 22 education systems scored above the U.S. average, up from 18 in 2009."

      In reading, 19 other locales scored higher than U.S. students — a jump from nine in 2009, when the last assessment was performed.

      As far as pricing children out of colleges, perhaps you may look to the over paid professors and staff who are raping the system. As a nation we currently hold one trillion dollars of student loan debt and much of this is paying for people who have no business at the college level.

      Education is not a Right, but in a free society you have a right to achieve one and the important word here is 'you'. I base this on my last reading of the Bill of Rights, but in today's world that may have changed last night.

      I would agree with your last paragraph, but to do this the federal Government has to be taken out of the equation.

      “This new Reich will give its youth to no one but will itself take over youth and give to youth its own education and its own upbringing.” (Hitler)
      • Mar 1 2014: Charles, I was not directly referring to your quote. You do make your position quite clear. What I was referring to was the original assumption for this thread which is, education is failing and it is the schools fault. Every example given initially has to do with the teacher or the school.

        Yes, the US education is failing students. Right now, it is failing the poorest areas in our country and the middle class is taking a hit as well. The Upper economic schools continue to do well though. Charter schools are a mixed bag.

        This is not just due to the classroom teacher or the schools. Yes, teachers do need to take things seriously and those who don't meet standards do need to leave. Changes in the school, and the national education system need to happen to stabilize the system.

        However, one cannot ignore the responsibility of the parent in this. You state that education is a right. Yes, in the US it is. But your statement, in practice, falls down when you assume that the student is responsible for their education. That has been taken from most teachers. If a student fails a class, the school and the parent blame the teacher, not the student. The teacher is not respected and any power for their class often gets taken by administration.

        Now, since you are referring to the PISA results. Schools in Japan and Korea are cited as top examples. Great. In South Korea the average student will go to school say 8 - 3. Then they will go to Hagwon from 4 or 5 to 10 at night to study specific subjects or test taking skills. Hagwons being privately paid schools. Education and teachers are respected and education is very competitive. Students know this and work to achieve.

        There does need to be change, but it needs to include the parent and student attitudes not just the education system.
        • Mar 2 2014: Charles Hunsinger

          Perhaps, you misread, but I did state that education 'is not a right'. It is a right if one refers to the UN Manifesto on Human Rights, but they are not us, right?
          Your references to Japan or S.Korea, I think, are invalid here, as we do not lag behind two countries, but 29. If I am not mistaken these two countries have been teaching the same way for many years. We at one time were better, now we are not.
          I would agree with you on some points and I did point out some of those in my original post here.
          With regard to respect. It is difficult when the almost daily reports of teachers raping their students, abusing their students and cheating on competency tests take a toll on that word.
          I enjoy the conversation.
  • Feb 28 2014: I agree with many of the posting here. The crucial destructive force which causes the deterioration of the education system is that there have been "too many chiefs bossing over the Indians, i.e.,the teachers and the individual school administration". This factor wasn't even listed in your list. The effect of too many layers and opinions among the "bosses" from the First Ladies, the Federal Dept of Education, State Board of Education and the School District Administration down to the District Area superintendents, they all wanted to show their (the taxpayers') money's worth by interfering the school education all over the place, but actually made it worse. Now, just look at the decision making of a very large assembly or legislative body, the larger the number of people involved, the worse the decision would come out from them. I couldn't think of a justifiable reason why the central government should even suggest, rather than mandate, the teaching materials for vast number of school students, except this were done under some authoritative or dictatorial regime. Some 80 years ago, there was never any government administrative body making any mandate about the teaching materials for the school children. the textbooks were usually selected by the school administrators or by a group of teachers or jointly. And of course the individual teachers could decide to supplement any materials they see fit.
    Regardless how the bureaucrats try to justify such interference, the plain fact is that we see clearly the decline of our education system compared with other nations in the world. There are alternative school systems which usually come out better than the public school system. The only reason that is not so clear cut difference is that even the charter or private schools are more or less also under the weight of these mandates and regulations too. These restraints, like a pair of yokes, pressed on the teacher and student such that they are losing their will to succeed.
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    Feb 26 2014: When you ask "what is considered...," are you asking about popular opinion or conclusions from rigorous research?

    Two factors research would support are first that kids enter school very differently prepared and some are playing catch-up even on the first day. This finding is behind the current push, for example in New York, for more comprehensive pre-kindergarten offerings. Students whose lives outside of school are particularly stressful also face continuing extra challenges in learning through all their years of schooling.

    A second factor is teacher quality, not in the sense of subject competency, though that matters, but in the sense of being able to support a student to grow in understanding and proficiency during the time the student is in the teacher's care. In some locations, the strongest teachers are attached to the most resource-rich schools and classrooms with the most advantaged kids and weaker teachers cycle through schools and classrooms with the least advantaged students. There have been programs that respond to this structural issue by placing very bright recent college graduates in such teaching situations, but typically after a couple year term of duty and on the job training, these young people do not choose to stay at those schools or in teaching at all. The work is more challenging than it may appear from outside.

    Research conducted by Eric Hanuchek of Stanford University suggests that having effective teachers three years in a row would close achievement gaps for the lowest performing students but that such students are more likely to get weaker teachers for three years than their more advantaged peers.

    Attendance is a problem but not to the same degree as in, say, India. I don't think the lack of access to technology is a serious factor, nor student-teacher communication. Class size also has not been found to make a large difference in student performance within the ranges of class size one typically sees.
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    Feb 26 2014: i did pretty well in school. I was the co-valedictorian of my high school, then went to Stanford and got a degree. So I can't say the system has such a downfall.
    • Mar 1 2014: That sounds good greg, but I don't know what that means. It would be more interesting and to the point if you could demonstrate what success you have achieved with that education. Although I am now retired I have been in business and have encountered to many token degrees to take any of them seriously. It is much like the book worm that inhales one book after another, but accomplishes nothing.
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        Mar 2 2014: so are you saying formal education is worthless? so as an answer to the fellow who started the conversation, you would say that it doesn't matter what the primary downfall in student performance is, formal education isn't valuable anyway? May I ask if you went to school for business? What sort of business were you in?
        • Mar 2 2014: Charles Hunsinger


          Formal education should not be worthless, but I fear it is becoming so. It does matter that student performance is failing, but, I think, it is analogous to a failing society and that matters too. My original post here speaks to my thoughts of education in this country.
          This story is on my profile and it deals with several professors from a local university. One professor said that the essence of human life is not worth further examination, that there is nothing of importance or significance there. I then told him that there was, obviously, no difference between him and a french fry. There was some umbrage, but maybe they will look up the word essence.
          No degree in business only only failure highlighted with some success. I was a General Contractor and invented a couple of things. Now I just irritate people with unsolicited opinion.
          So greg; what have you done with your education? What do you look for in the future and I would hope that it is there for you. Your picture shows a peace sign laying on its side; is there significance to that?
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        Mar 2 2014: what is your evidence that student performance is failing? The U.S. has an extremely high quality of life (are you American?), and that quality of life is largely provided by people who have been trained in all kinds of schools? Of course, they learn from experience as well as school.

        In my case, I got an English degree. I've done all kinds of jobs. The ones that might have used the English degree were book reviewer and actor. But I do believe that going to school also taught me to think better, so I could do a better job on jobs that didn't have much to do with English.

        How did you get the skills to become a general contractor, just learned on the job and rose in the ranks?

        No significance to the peace sign being sideways. I think that's just the style now to flash it sideways, but it still means peace.
        • Mar 2 2014: Charles Hunsinger


          From Education Week, we find the following statistics. From an employers point of view, ranging from professional to unskilled, to office staff; applicants (not all) cannot write a comprehensive paragraph, cannot articulate a thought without the use questionable slang and even profanity. "Man" and "Dude" are often the words of choice followed with a mixture of indifference and entitlement.

          "In mathematics, 29 nations and other jurisdictions outperformed the United States by a statistically significant margin, up from 23 three years ago," reports Education Week. "In science, 22 education systems scored above the U.S. average, up from 18 in 2009."

          In reading, 19 other locales scored higher than U.S. students — a jump from nine in 2009, when the last assessment was performed."

          I do have a degree, but it took me 18 years to receive it. A class here, there. The credits add up. A degree was very important to me. Earning money and raising a family was also very important. For the most part I had a fool for a teacher. This is what is often said of the self taught. Henry Ford is a prime example.

          How did I get the skills to be a contractor; "therefore I think I am" I don't know that I can't be, therefore I will be. The business was started as a handy man type thing and it grew.

          If I may give an unsolicited opinion, I would avoid what is in style, as it may have a demeaning characterization, both inwardly and outwardly.
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        Mar 3 2014: but still, we have a very high quality of life in the U.S., or do you disagree?
        • Mar 3 2014: greg

          We have a depreciating life style. We have over 12 million people out of work, 47 million Americans on food stamps and 13 million on welfare. The US infrastructure is falling apart. We have a 17 trillion dollar debt and an 80 trillion dollar unfunded debt. I could go on, but the Article below sums it up.
          The below figures are from the Christian Science Monitor.

          "Per capita disposal personal income — a key indicator of the standard of living — peaked in the spring of 2008, at $33,794 (measured as after-tax income). As of the second quarter of 2011, it was $32,479 — almost a 4 percent drop. If per capita disposable income had continued to grow at its normal pace, it would have been more than $34,000 a year by now.
          The misery index — which combines inflation and unemployment — is almost back to where it was 30 years ago — after inflation had reached 13% and stocks had been going down for 16 years."

          What Capitalism built, Socialism is destroying.