Sunday, September 18, 2011

U.S. Schools have to do better

Source: The Economist
The showing of the United States in the latest PISA results is unsatisfactory. Clearly kids need to learn reading, arithmetic and science. I suspect that teachers are important. In many nations teachers are high status and given the freedom and resources to help kids learn. I think our parents have to take a stronger stand assuring that their kids are motivated to learn and making sure that the schools and teachers that serve their kids are held to account for the quality of their services.

Data show that social class is a predictor of American student performance. I suspect that in part that is due to the fact that the United States has become a place with little social mobility. If you are a lower class kid and perceive little chance of rising out of the lower class, how well are you going to perform in school and on these kinds of tests? If you are a teacher with a class of lower class kids, kids who see little social mobility in their future, how hard are you going to try to help them learn? I could go on.

I suspect that there are further issues. What do we have to help kids to learn now for their future, and do the PISA tests do a good job in testing these accomplishments. I suspect that kids will be facing rapid social, economic and technological change, and will need the skills to adapt to that change and to learn new skills and obtain new knowledge and understanding well and efficiently. I doubt that the PISA tests do much to test those abilities.

I wonder too whether we are thinking enough about how to help kids to learn. To what degree can we find technology to help the schools? To what degree can we improve out of school learning opportunities? Indeed, to what degree can we adjust the demands of the economy and the society to better adapt to what kids can learn and adapt what we ask kids to learn to better meet the demands of the economy and society?

No comments: