A history of American education reform: 20 years, still struggling with the flood of test-taking

Recently, there is a heated discussion about how to educate children.

Should discipline be strict or should nature take its course? After all make up a missed lesson is a kind of fair choice, or an unfair distribution?

Biden’s “three fires” reveal the education philosophy

Education is a big deal in any country and region, especially for children, and America is no exception.

U.S. President Joe Biden has been busy with several “projects” that will cost money since he took office. Apart from the well-known jobs plan and infrastructure plan, the American family plan is also one of his priorities. In a speech to a joint session of Congress at the end of April, he unveiled a $1.8 trillion “American Families Plan” for children, students and families.

The plan, of course, includes things like health care for low-income people, but a lot of it has to do with education and children.

Including childcare and preschool, of which about $225 billion is spent on child care, Biden called for planning child care centers from the ground up and offering a variety of options to expand access to affordable, accessible child care. $200 billion for universal preschool, free preschool for all 3 – and 4-year-olds. Early childhood workers will have a minimum wage of $15 / hour, with additional compensation depending on eligibility.

It also includes subsidies for universal university education. Of that, $109 billion is for two years of free community college for every American. Biden is also asking for $80 billion in additional Pell Grants. That would increase the maximum award for students by about $1,400. The plan also calls for a $62 billion strategic investment in educational institutions to improve retention and completion rates at colleges, especially community colleges. The $46 billion investment provides “tuition subsidies for two years for students from families earning less than $125,000” who attend a four-year historically black college or university (HBCU), tribal college or university (TCU) or minority service institution (MSI).

In addition to the incentive for children and students, teachers incentive can not be less. $9 billion for teachers to “train, equip, and diversify America’s teachers to ensure that our high school graduates are prepared for success.” Of that, $900 million would go to special education teacher development. Biden is asking Congress to spend $1.6 billion to help current teachers get the certification they need and to double scholarships for future teachers from $4,000 to $8,000 a year.

The Bloody History of Educational Reform in America

Of course, this cannot be called “education reform”. In the past two decades, the story of education reform in the United States is also a laundry list.

The U.S. Constitution states that education is primarily a state and local responsibility, with the federal government playing a supporting role. However, after World War II, the role of the federal government in the field of education has been continuously strengthened, and the federal government has been increasing its voice and influence in education by means of educational financial allocation and setting national standards.

In 1958, the National Defense Education Act was enacted in response to the challenge of the successful launch of the first satellite by the Soviet Union. It was believed that the leading position of the United States in scientific and technological competition was challenged and the country was already in a crisis, so the education reform was imperative. Education and defense became closely linked, federal intervention in state education became essential, and there were more ideas about how to “measure” the quality of education.

By the 1960s, President Johnson’s Great Society program made education the main weapon in the war on poverty. In 1965, the Primary and Secondary Education Act was enacted with the aim of improving the quality of education and promoting equal access to education, especially for children from poor areas and low-income families. The act is considered by many to be the beginning of educational accountability in the United States because it makes it clear that schools and school districts should conduct annual reviews and evaluations and report the results to higher levels of government in a timely manner.

Starting in the 1970s, there was a nationwide movement for “back to basics” education reform. By the 1980s, the government was paying more attention to the end results of schooling. At the same time, in order to ensure the effective implementation of the accountability system during this period, the US government released a series of relevant documents, such as “The Nation at Risk”, “The Nation is Ready — Teachers for the 21st Century”, “Teachers of Tomorrow” and “The Coming of the Outcome Oriented Era”. These reports not only called for more testing, but also called for more testing. Rewards and punishments given to a school or school district were also linked to test results. In 1989, President Bush held a summit on education to establish national standards for student performance.

By the 1990s, educational accountability had taken off, holding the federal government, state governments, schools, principals, teachers, parents, students, and communities jointly responsible for student learning outcomes and the performance of school outputs.

No Child Left Behind — Accountability Brings Education to the Test

George W. Bush succeeded Bill Clinton as the new president of the United States in 2001. On January 8, 2002, President George W. Bush signed the No Child Left Behind law into law. The law aims to change the poor literacy and numeracy of American elementary and middle school students.

The overall goal of the bill is to be “equal”! Education should be provided equally to students regardless of their race or family background; Schools should encourage children to progress at their potential; The education system must help underachieving students in weak schools to meet prescribed academic standards, narrowing the gap between advantaged and disadvantaged students’ test scores. It establishes a timetable for all students in the country to achieve proficiency in math, science and reading by 2014.

There is a timetable and, of course, a “road map”. To ensure that the goals are met, the act requires states and schools to hold themselves accountable and accountable for educational outcomes. The primary measure of accountability for performance is student test results. Each state sets an adequate annual progress rate for each year based on the gap between students’ current academic performance and their goals. States set challenging state standards for reading and math, all students in grades 3-8 would be required to take annual tests, and districts and schools that failed to make “appropriate annual progress” toward state proficiency goals would be labeled “poor” and would face penalties for improvement, restructuring, and student refunds. Schools that meet and exceed the annual modest progress goals receive a state academic achievement award.

If a punch strikes, it will reverberate.

Overall, NCLB has helped young students of all races and backgrounds improve academic performance and narrow the gap.

But the drawbacks are also clear. On the one hand, the trend of exam-oriented education is more and more obvious. The standardized model makes the education of diverse students less effective and teachers are busy with the assessment. On the other hand, once a student or school is labeled as “bad,” it may go on to become worse, and data fraud is common. In addition, teacher turnover increased and student dropouts increased.

Not “test-oriented”, improve comprehensive ability, vigorously support school competition

With unemployment soaring and budgets shrinking after the 2008 financial crisis, what is the future of American education?

Obama promised in his campaign to “transform” American education by adopting a more scientific academic evaluation system, changing the status of “teaching to the test” in basic education, improving the quality and benefits of teachers, and providing opportunities for every American to receive higher education.

First, he changed the standards. The cultivation of the basic education standards can no longer limit the student academic performance is good or bad, but to cultivate students the skills it takes to the 21st century, such as problem solving and analysis ability, critical thinking ability, interpersonal skills, creativity and so on, so he canceled the NCLB in 2014 goals, generation in 2020 to prepare for education and employment training objectives, Focus on students’ social skills. And is committed to improving STEM education across the board in the United States.

He paid special attention to pre-school education and announced a comprehensive education program called Zero to Five Plan, “Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge Program” and “Early Head Start-Child Care. Partnerships) program to encourage states to actively carry out high-standard preschool education reform and ensure that every child has the opportunity to obtain high-quality preschool education.

The Obama administration has also lifted restrictions on Charter schools, championed their growth and multiplied funding for them. Charter schools emerged in the 1980s as a form of the American parents’ choice movement against poor education in public schools. They are also a type of school among many public and private schools. The growth of charter schools will mean an expansion of parental choice, more competition and challenges for public schools, and a redistribution of educational resources.

In addition, he has introduced a number of programs to support teacher professional development, recruiting, training, retaining and rewarding outstanding teachers. Moreover, in higher education, the Obama administration has focused on expanding aid programs by focusing on tuition-driven access issues. Because the cost of American college has risen 439 percent in 15 years, the percentage of 25- to 34-year-olds earning college degrees in the United States, which led the world in the 1990s, has fallen to a dozen. Through a range of grants, education will be made “affordable” for all.

In December 2015, Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to replace the 14-year-old No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), which included gifted education.