Education Reform

Education reform is in the works, and you can stay updated on the latest changes, debates, and policies here. Learn more about No Child Left Behind and how it impacts your child. Explore how federal and state government is working to improve school performance, student achievement and education standards.
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Updated July 22, 2016 |
Parents Refuse Common Core Testing
Parents nationwide are opting out of state testing. Hoping to send a message to lawmakers, they are refusing to allow their children to take standardized tests.
Parents Refuse Common Core Testing 

In communities all over the country, parents are choosing to opt their children out of Common Core testing. In schools from coast to coast, April has become “testing season,” the time of the year when students in grades K-12 sit for standardized tests in math and English language arts. Because of initiatives like No Child Let Behind and Race to the Top, which are intended to measure and improve student performance, some students sit for up to nine to twelve hours of testing over the course of a few weeks.  

Race to the Top

The Race to the Top program, which began in 2009, offers grants totaling billions of dollars to states that follow guidelines for education innovation. In order to qualify for the competitive grants, states must build “data systems that measure student growth and success, and inform teachers and principals about how they can improve instruction.” To gather the data necessary to meet this requirement, states have implemented standardized testing for all public school children.

Why Opt-Out?

In 2014, some parents decided they’d had enough of high-stakes, long-duration testing. Around the country handfuls of students showed up on testing days clutching formally-worded notes from their parents explaining that they were “opting out” or refusing to take the standardized tests.

There are several reasons why parents are rejecting Common Core Testing:

  • Parents believe students suffer unnecessary stress due to hours of testing.
  • Teachers are forced to “teach to the test” which limits what students learn.
  • Testing companies collect student data, and
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Updated March 29, 2015 |
The Parents’ Guide to Common Core
The Common Core State Standards were developed as a means to prepare K-12 students for success in college or the workforce upon graduation from high school. Since their inception, they have been adopted by 43 states. While much support has been given for the standards, many criticisms have emerged as well.
The Common Core State Standards were developed after education officials became concerned over the lack of progress American students were making in the areas of math and language arts. After years of being outperformed by children in other countries, various stakeholders came together to devise a new set of standards that would raise the bar for student learning. The result was the Common Core, which took shape over the course of 2009 and was implemented in 2010. In the years since, 43 states, Washington, D.C., the education wing of the Department of Defense, and several U.S. territories have adopted the standards.  
Developed by Experts
 
The Common Core standards represent a cooperative effort between dozens of officials including governors, teachers, curriculum design experts, and researchers. However two agencies, the National Governors Association for Best Practices (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) led the charge for the creation of the standards and continue to lead the ongoing efforts to implement the standards nationwide.
 
Throughout the design process, the NGA and CCSSO relied on input from content area experts, teachers, and even parents to devise standards that are both rigorous and relevant to a modern-day education. The authors of the standards also worked with higher education officials, workforce trainers, and employers to ensure the standards facilitated the development of knowledge and skills required for success in college, at the workplace, and in life.  
 
Purpose of the Standards
 
The standards-based movement was
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Updated March 03, 2015 |
Are the Three Rs Robbing our Children?
For far too long the American public school system has failed to address “out-of-school” factors like poverty and their impact on what happens in the classroom. As the nation continues to become increasingly diverse, many schools are adopting comprehensive approaches to education that account for the unique needs of students so that each child is prepared for their future and not just for a year-end test.
The notion of comprehensive education is nothing new, yet with all of the education reforms and testing initatives, has it fallen even further to the wayside?  Are our current curriculum standards robbing children of a real education, in favor of No. 2 pencils scratching on standardized bubbles?  Many consider John Dewey, the late nineteenth and early twentieth-century philosopher and advocate of progressivism to be the father of student-centered learning. Dewey championed the idea that schools should address a broad spectrum of student needs, rather than drill rote memorization of facts into students’ heads. The addition of school counselors, special education programs, advanced courses for the gifted, and student support services like positive behavior interventions would all fall under the realm of whole-child educational programs that schools throughout the nation have implemented for quite some time.  According to the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, whole-child education should encompass the following: 
  • Every child comes to school healthy and is supported in his or her pursuit of good mental and physical health through physical education, health, and wellness classes and activities that enrich their lives.
  • Every child learns in an environment that is free from discrimination, upholds the tenets of social justice and equality, and provides opportunities for students to feel valued and respected.
  • Every child is actively engaged in their learning, which is facilitated by hands-on and project-based learning, community service, extracurricular activities, and other programs that extend learning beyond the classroom.
  • Every child participates in personalized learning programs that meet their unique academic,
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Updated March 03, 2015 |
Editorial: Common Core Standards a Good Place to Start, but More Work is Needed
The Common Core Standards were created in order to facilitate greater academic progress among K-12 students, and seek to provide consistent academic benchmarks that students must meet. While Common Core is a step in the right direction, there are some concerns that need to be addressed before they reach their optimal effectiveness.
The Common Core State Standards began, in part, as the brainchild of Janet Napolitano, former governor of Arizona. As the chairperson of the National Governors Association in 2006-2007, Napolitano created a task force on education that released a report calling for standardized benchmarks in education. That report eventually formed the basis of the Common Core State Standards, which thus far have been adopted by 45 states, Washington, D.C., four U.S. territories and the educational branch of the Department of Defense.
 
Today, the Common Core is a set of high-quality, rigorous standards that outline what children should learn, know and be able to do at each grade level in the areas of math and language arts. The standards seek to address the variability between state-level educational standards that have for years produced high school graduates with widely ranging academic abilities.
 
 
The Common Core Standards are both relevant and rigorous. Students are engaged in activities that build higher-ordered analytical skills, critical thinking skills, and problem-solving skills that are necessary for success in today’s world. In that regard, the standards are not focused solely on acquisition of knowledge, but the application of that knowledge as well. Additionally, in states where the standards have been adopted, students receive comparable instruction no matter who their teacher is or what school they attend, which helps eliminate variability in student preparedness. Although teachers still have wide latitude in the delivery of lessons, they each have the same target in the end: student
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Published June 26, 2013 |
Do Public Schools Need to Teach More Math and Science?
Some educators and community leaders are pushing for more math and science at the high school level. Is the move really necessary and if so, how do schools get students more interested in these STEM subjects?
Math and science are the backbone of the education system in the United States today, as STEM fields come to the forefront of the global marketplace. However, if one examines the test scores of U.S. students, it becomes clear that students in this country are not taking sufficient math and science to make the grade. As the U.S. continues to fall in math and science rankings on a global scale, many educators and business leaders are leading the charge for more rigorous math and science requirements in high schools. Will more math and science really make the U.S. more competitive?
 
U.S. Lagging Other Industrial Countries
 
Last year, William Bennett, the former U.S. Education Secretary, reported at CNN that the United States scored 23rd in math and 31st in science among the 65 top industrial countries in the world. The Wall Street Journal also issued a report, citing a warning in a report from the United States National Academies that stated the U.S. was losing ground in both math and science skills. Even as the U.S. has made some improvements in math and science test scores over the past decade, the country still lags behind many other countries across the globe in these key areas.
 
In addition to losing a global competitiveness, the U.S. may be cheating itself out of future math and science advancements. The CNN article also reported that only 26 percent of the high school seniors in this country score proficient or above on math examinations, and
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