Examining Disadvantages of U.S. High School System

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Examining Disadvantages of U.S. high School System
In light of a lot of controversial issues over education matters, different people take different sides and give out individual opinions. There is a common belief that good education would provide a country with a lot of benefits such as more promising economic growth and higher living standards. As the global economic recession is taken more seriously, more and more people are now turning their attention to education in America, the most powerful country in the world, asking whether it will be still up to its name in the future and what kind of improvement to education can make contribution to the social economy. In addition, media also gives data on America’s stagnant education outcome. In a study released in September 2009, what stands out is that U.S. students scored the lowest in Math and Science, with a Math result “in the bottom quarter of all the countries that participated, including Finland, China and Estonia”(Lattimore). As well, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan claimed that students are going to struggle in the global market competition without intellectual growth. Thus, education issues become outstanding among all the challenges people are going to meet in the recent future. Since secondary education plays a fundamental and transitional role in one’s whole education journey, here are examinations of important factors in the current U.S. public high school system that cause its education quality to decline. Students are not being helped by tests because standards are not rigorous in American high schools. According to Dr. Kristy Vernille, an expert in Mathematics Curriculum and Instruction, American students usually move from grade to grade easily and “without having to demonstrate competency in any subject matter”, as a result of the loose and vague test standards in America (Vernille 5). Although American students are often asked to take a lot of standardized tests, based on the American Federation of Teachers, the tests results of students usually do not influence their progress through the system. Furthermore, state and commercial tests have lower degree of difficulty and focus on less-advanced problem solving than the international tests; at the same time, international tests include more open-response items (in which students have to show how they solve the problems), whereas “the United States tests are predominantly multiple-choice items with little intellectual demand associated with determining the answer” (AFT 15). Under these circumstances, U.S. students are not motivated for further study or higher academic accomplishment, resulting in their lower competency than their international peers. However, establishing more rigorous test standards in the U.S. public school system will improve American students’ academic performance. To demonstrate, in China, there is a highly standardized test named “the National College Entrance Examination”. It also appeared in Time magazine as the “most pressure packed examination in the world” (Siegel). The Entrance Examination is held for the sake of selecting students for higher education and leadership, and is taken by every Chinese twelfth grader every year. In every state, schools are informed what to teach students and what will probably appear in the exam (Schaack 5). During the preparation for the exam, students have to receive an extremely large amount of information from teachers and finally implement it into the Entrance Exam. Those who perform extraordinarily well are admitted to the nation’s top universities; “the rest find spots in provincial universities or two- and three-year colleges” (Siegel). Due to the fact that Chinese students are under such kind of pressure, they are more likely to learn things in order to be competitive and prepared for their future. To a large degree, their academic achievement is related to their educational policies and environment. They don’t have many alternatives in...
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