Revamping America's Educational
Best Practices ~ C Block

It could be so much better - education in America, I mean.  It should be so much better.  But is it as bad as Diane Sawyer, FOXNews, and other seemingly endless talking heads continue to say?  Is their narrative true?  Maybe it's more complex than simply using OECD and PISA test scores.  You decide.  No doubt, the American education system could use an overhaul.  Chicago's own Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education to President Obama, likens himself as a man whose ears are open to our ideas.  Let's take this opportunity to create a Best Practices board that articulates the following:

1.  American students are falling behind other nations because...

2.  What the nation of [your researched country] is doing that makes them successful academically.

3.  Whether the U.S. should be compared to the top-scoring countries of the world.  Is it possible for American students to do what kids from Singapore, Japan, Belgium, and Korea do?

4.  Work with two other nations to write a "Best Practice" idea for Sect. Duncan that is inclusive of your country's educational policies or practices with details about how to implement this idea at the federal and state levels (vertical organization).  Be clear about this and prepared for critique.

5.  Critique the idea designed by the other groups.  Can their best practice really work here?  If so, how?  If not, why?

Comment Stream

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2 years ago
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2. The Netherlands offers Vocational Degree programs ranging from basic vocational training to management training to nursing. Students who are motivated by the pursuit of a career are more likely to stay motivated in school in a country like the Netherlands because they can see exactly where their path in school will take them: to a career. Being able to apply the fruits of an education immediately keeps Dutch students motivated and, more importantly, performing well. -Jack

2 years ago
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4. Mr. Duncan, it is going to require much effort and time to get to the top of the list, but it is possible! Here in Austria, one thing that is extremely important for our policy, is allowing our children attend public schools that not only work with our kids so as they learn the STEM subjects, literature, and arts, but also vocational types of training if they wish to have jobs in sectors of trade. In singapore, a way to help educate your children further may be by giving them stricter instruction, and having your children in class/school for much more time, that way they are always learning.

2 years ago
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4. Best Practices from Japan (CQ) and New Zealand (MB):
-Federal government should determine national curriculum, while reserving small amount of freedom to individual districts and schools.
-The U.S. should extend the school year to allow for more time in the classroom, which could take the form of a shorter summer break or the inclusion of Saturday school days.
-Students should be able to select which public school they would like to attend, as opposed to abiding by the district system. The public schools should also vary in size so that students can attend a school that best fits their learning styles.

2 years ago
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-Chris Q. and Max B.

2 years ago
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-The American Education system should be "highly permeable" so that students don't feel like they are at a dead end if they don't meet classroom expectations and they can still get access to higher education if they need to.
-With that being said, students shouldn't be differentiated between until later in their school careers (e.g. no honors tracks, all students in the same classroom).
-Teachers should be required to have a masters degree, subsidized by the state. Teachers also should be the top performances in their own schooling. To incentivize teachers, the possible salary for teachers that commit themselves to teaching for 10+ should be greater than the average salary of a college graduate.
-Instead of being focused on testing and meeting requirements, let the system be highly decentralized and give schools autonomy so that they feel like they are not learning for anyone else's agenda.
-Make learning fun. Make students enjoy it. Having engaging teachers is a large part of this.

-Will & Pranav

2 years ago
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2)
Belgium & Switzerland
-Vocational option: In both Belgium and Switzerland, students can opt to go through vocational training and participate in apprenticeships rather than attending secondary school. This system allows students to feel more motivated in their education, as they are preparing for employment, rather than preparing to attend university, which is not an affordable option for many students. Students who do pursue an academic path, rather than attending vocational school, are also more motivated because they have chosen this path for themselves. While vocational schools do exist in the U.S., they are heavily stigmatized, which is not the case in Belgium and Switzerland.

3)
While cultural differences between the U.S. and many eastern nations, such as China, make it difficult to compare the success of students in these nations. For example, it would be extremely unlikely to implement the education system that exists in Shanghai-China in the U.S. However, Switzerland, Belgium, and other westernized nations, are culturally similar, making the task of comparing students’ success and possibility implementing an educational system similar to the systems that exist in these nations much more realistic.

4)
-encouraging enrollment in vocational schools and establishing apprenticeship programs with these schools
-lowering cost of higher education. States should subsidize higher education. (for example, by following Chicago’s model of offering free community college education for students above a 3.0 GPA).
-eliminating school districting system to increase competition between schools. Underperforming schools would close, and funding from these institutions would be reallocated.
-offering public schools more autonomy in determining curriculum and administration. Implementing this reform would require more restrictions on unions in the educational system, and creating broader educational objectives for schools to meet (higher standards, but more flexibility in how schools meet these objectives), such as cultural ethics and training in information and communications technology.
-Ella and Kathryn

2 years ago
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4. Best Practices
- Start with teaching and incentivizing the teachers. Give teachers with masters degrees and PhD's higher salaries—this will encourage more qualified teachers to take up teaching jobs.
- Also need to motivate students to excel in school. Show that there are practical applications to their education. Bring back some vocational training in school to mirror and enhance the lessons of other subjects. This will also drive home the message to students that their school activities can translate to real world work.
-Require schools to offer more after school activities. These in-school extracurriculars will keep kids productive and safe. This will get them more involved in community through games and hobbies. 💥

2 years ago
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-Arnold and Whittaker

2 years ago
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Michelle Santos and Frani O'Toole4. To mimic Canada’s education policies, there should be emphasis on teachers. Teachers that struggle in public schools should be able to work with other teachers to improve their skill instead of firing or punishing a bad teacher (non-judgementalism). Further tests and certification processes to determine teacher qualifications should be given to make sure a teacher is qualified for the subject they are teaching.

To mimic Italy’s education policies, there should be more options for a student to personalize his or her own curriculum. In high school, there should be more opportunities (particularly in creative or innovative fields) for students to explore their interests with breadth and depth.

2 years ago
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Comment on Will and Pranav's -- Kathryn and Ella -If students do not meet classroom expectation, they will not be prepare for higher education. While higher education would ideally be affordable and accessible to those who want to pursue it, the American school system should support options outside of formal education—such as vocational school—because for some students higher education is not a realistic or practical option.
-Without differentiating students in primary and secondary education, more advanced students would not feel challenged, while students with difficulties learning would struggle in classes beside more advanced students. It is necessary to differentiate students early in education to ensure that all students learn at an appropriate pace.