A

Better Education System

Background

Education is quite possibly the second most important

thing in our society, next to money. America is known for having the top

colleges and universities in the world, but what about our education before

then? If you ask current college students, such as the ones on my dorm floor,

what they thought of their high school education before they answer the

question they’ll most likely state some complaint about high school. The

complaint is along the lines of “I wish high school taught me more useful real

world things” or “high school took up way too much time”. Both of these are

valid complaints that America’s current education system fails in. America’s

schools are quite notorious online for having an absurd number of standardized

tests that add nothing to the education of the students. These tests are purely

for funding of schools, which you would think since there are so many of the

test that the funding is adequate but that’s not even true, the government is

horrendous at funding schools evenly.

A problem with the

current school system happens to be the actual students. As said earlier the

complaint that high school didn’t teach anything real world useful is universal

today. You see this complaint on twitter, Tumblr, YouTube comments, and even in

movies. But why even is there this complaint? While, yes, school does not have

classes in finance or job applications worked into the core classes, in most

high schools they are offered as side classes. However, people seem to miss the

entire point of high school. The point is not to give you a baseline of

information and then send you to a job. The point of high school, and why it is

so hard to teach, is it is supposed to give the students a wide variety of

knowledge that will hopefully lead them into a career that they would like to

do. Not everyone is going to use differential equations in their lives, most

people won’t really use anything past Algebra 2, but some students may not know

that they like those classes and taking them opens a whole variety of job

opportunities for the student.

As for the second complaint of high school takes too much

time, this is true and sadly for the wrong reasons. In a week there are a total

of 168 hours, 120 if you only count the school week. Of these 168 hours roughly

32 hours are in class, 47.6 are sleeping, 15.55 are homework, and 21 are sports.

School lasts 7 hours a day for 5 days where classes meet 4 hours per week, the

average amount of sleep for a high school student is 6.8 hours, the average

amount of homework per weeknight is 3.11 hours, and the average practice length

of sports are 3.5 hours. These hours total up to 116.15 hours per week spent

doing high school related activities, this is excluding any clubs or out of

school sports related activities that a student may do. These statistics may

seem fine since it leaves 51 hours of free time, this is where things get crazy

for high school. According to pretty much any college the proper way to study

is about 2 hours for every hour spent in class, this way it’s a consistent study

and the brain retains more information than just cramming the night before.

Except, if 32 hours a week are in class, and since high schools generally use

block scheduling each class meets the same amount per week, this means 70 hours

a week should be used for studying properly. Based off the current school

system students need 180.15 hours per week just to keep up with their

schooling. It’s no wonder high school students are more stressed out than ever.

According to UCLA high school students now are partying a fourth as much as

their parents, and hanging out with friend half as much.

Standardized testing, 93% of studies say that they are a

positive impact on a student’s education, but students seem to disagree.

Standardized testing starts in second grade and happens yearly through juniors

in high school, some years there are multiple tests per year. Students are

tired of standardized tests that take place of actual instruction time and add

no real academic value, they don’t go on your transcript, and they’re purely

for funding to the school. Last year in Colorado there was a huge uproar over

standardized testing. Colorado decided to usher in a new wave of standardized

tests, the CMAS, this test was to be given to high school seniors which made

everyone go into an uproar. Senior year was supposed to be the year focused on

college and no testing. It was insulting to the students that there was another

test they had to take that wasn’t even going on college transcripts. This test

was protested by Colorado’s top performing and wealthiest counties, Douglas,

Cherry Creek, and Boulder, in Douglas County over half of the student refused

to take the test, I was one, in Cherry Creek only 37% took the test and in

Boulder a mere 16% of students took the test. These tests were for funding and

school districts try to use teachers to guilt trip people into taking tests,

the tests supposedly reflect the teacher’s performance and therefore decides

their pay. This is wrong.

Solution

There is no real solution to this education problem,

however, I think this would be the best way to go about it. Unfortunately the

first complaint may never go away, but if we introduced subjects earlier on in

schooling kids would be able to see the value of what they’re doing. Currently

the non-stem side of school is fine where it is, the problem is math and

science are nowhere near where they need to be in this fast progressing time. In

the current elementary school curriculum math progresses from first grade math,

which is a generalization of all mathematics, each section is a portion of math

graphing, fraction, operations, etc., to pre-algebra which is an introduction

to Algebra. So essentially the math is progressing from generalization of math

to a generalization of the backbone of mathematics. That’s pitiful, it’s no

wonder so many kids hate mathematics, it’s just repetition of the same thing

for 8 years until you get to the actual useful stuff in Algebra. I propose

almost a complete overhaul of the department. Going through each year I can see

things that I never used and will never use, and I’m in engineering so I’ll be

using almost all of math. After removing these topics and re arranging them it

should move the curriculum two years ahead, this allows Algebra and Geometry to

be taught in 7th and 8th grade. This puts students in

high school through at least calculus by junior year, giving them senior year

to decide if they really want to pursue a math heavy majors in college. As for

science the changes are not as much as mathematics. Simply moving the

curriculum a year ahead would suffice, this would put Biology in 8th

grade and make chemistry and physics the first two years of high school. Having

these two within the first two years opens up the option to take the advanced

courses in each junior instead of senior year where they were previously taken.

Having the increased level of mathematics and science earlier on in a student’s

career should increase the amount that are sure they want to go into those

types of fields and look into how they can achieve those goals.

Time management is essential for an efficient school

system. The school year would adopt the year round school system of 45-15 where

the students go to school for 45 school days (3 months) and then are out of

school for 15 (3 weeks). This allows a

consistent learning with adequate breaks that the students will need to keep up

with studies. The current school week for high school is based off the block

schedule which is 8 classes and the week is split into odd classes on Monday and

Wednesday while evens are on Tuesday and Thursday for 90 minutes each class,

then on Friday every class meets for 50 minutes. This is a great schedule,

except Friday, most classes through my high school career saw Friday as a

waste. Nothing of importance was completed on this day, teachers could barely

teach a decent lesson. In the new school system block schedules should keep the

8 classes split by odds and evens except on Friday it should essentially be a

required study day. This cuts down on the amount of required studying outside

of class. Furthermore, classes need to become more interactive with teachers

and students. Homework should not be required, it takes up crucial times that

both students and teachers need. Instead, classes should be a quiz based grade

with a yearlong cumulative final at the end that decides if you pass or not,

passing grades would be decided by the individual school districts. Each pop

quiz would be tailored towards the individual student meaning that the first

quiz would establish a baseline for the students and each quiz after would

emphasize their weaknesses of the class. This puts work that replaces grading

homework, the teachers would know each student better and have a better

understanding of each student’s learning. This also puts work onto the

students, they would need to properly study for each class to continually get

better at what they struggle with in each class. Now back to the hours each

week. As said before students would need 180.15 hours to complete their school work.

With this the students would be in class each week for 24 hours- closer to a

college schedule- requiring 48 hours a week of proper studying except Friday is

a 1 hour study for each class knocking that down to 40 hours of studying

outside of class. There would be no more homework so that gets rid of 15.55

hours. Assuming the sleep schedule and sports stay the same in order for

students to adequately complete their school studies they would need 140.6

hours a week, leaving 27.4 hours of free time. Of course 27.4 hours is not a

ton of free time but remember that this is only for 3 months at a time and then

they get a 3 week break from school which would be used to relieve stress built

up from the school year.

The hardest part of implementing a new school system is

how it would be funded. Currently public schools are given funding based off

their standardized test scores, which leads to many teachers teaching to the

test to improve scores. This would not work in the school system laid out, and

really barely works in the current school system. The United States spends

roughly 950.8 billion on education. Teachers should be payed a base starting

salary, $49,000 would be the minimum, then based off of the performance of the

class with rigor of the course taken into account. The current amount of full

time teachers is 3.1 million which costs 152 billion dollars in teacher

starting salaries. This means the only way to move is up depending on how well

you teach your subject. Reflections of teacher performance would be taken from

the progress of the quizzes along with the results off the cumulative exam at

the end of the year. Possible bonuses for each school would be awarded for the

percent of graduating kids. The standards for graduation would be 4 credits of

math (algebra 2, trig/pre calc, statistics, calculus), 4 credits of science

(chemistry, physics, higher level), 4 credits of English (English 1-4 or AP), 3

credits of social studies, 4 credits of practical arts (business, computers,

etc.), 1 credits of fine arts (music, art, theatre, etc.) and 8 credits of

electives (foreign language, specific sciences, etc.) along with obtaining at

least a 2.5 GPA, this totals 28 credit hours which is at minimum 7 classes per

year.

The school system I would implement cuts down would

require students to take classes in business or finance thus eliminating the

complaint of not learning enough practical knowledge in school. It also cuts

down on the amount of time students stress about school allowing students to

take more rigorous schedules while still having the spare time to do things

they enjoy. Re adjusting the education system for elementary schools gives

students a background in problem solving and critical thinking allowing for

more engineers, scientists, and entrepreneurs to come into the work force. The

changes laid out would not be easy to implement, and surely unions and such

would oppose it. But I believe that it is the proper way to prepare our future

generations for this technologically advanced society we are progressing

towards so quickly.

Citations

1.

Examining Merit Pay. (n.d.). Retrieved

December 11, 2015, from http://www.nea.org/home/36780.htm

2.

Fast Facts. (n.d.). Retrieved December 11,

2015, from http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=372

3.

Government Spending Details. (n.d.).

Retrieved December 11, 2015, from

http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/year_spending_2016USbn_17bs2n_2030#usgs302

4.

Homeschool, Afterschool, Summer Study –

Time4Learning. (n.d.). Retrieved December 11, 2015, from https://www.time4learning.com/education/curriculum_overview.shtml

5.

How Many Hours Should You Study Every

Week? (n.d.). Retrieved from

http://news.everest.edu/post/2008/03/study-hours/#.VmtRvL9rjxU

6.

Research Spotlight on Year-Round

Education. (n.d.). Retrieved December 11, 2015, from

http://www.nea.org/tools/17057.htm

7.

Statistic Brain. (n.d.). Retrieved December

11, 2015, from http://www.statisticbrain.com/education

8.

(n.d.). Retrieved from

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/parents-partied-harder-than-todays-high-schoolers-says-ucla/

9.

(n.d.). Retrieved from

http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_26930017/thousands-colorado-high-school-students-refuse-take-sate