Our Declining Education System
According to "A Nation at Risk", the American education system has declined due to a " rising tide of mediocrity" in our schools. States such as New York have responded to the findings and recommendations of the report by implementing such strategies as the "Regents Action Plan" and the "New Compact for Learning".
In the early 1980's, President Regan ordered a national commission to study our education system. The findings of this commission were that, compared with other industrialized nations, our education system is grossly inadequate in meeting the standards of education that many other countries have developed. At one time, America was the world leader in technology, service, and industry, but overconfidence based on a historical belief in our superiority has caused our nation to fall behind the rapidly growing competitive market in the world with regard to education. The report in some respects is an unfair comparison of our education system, which does not have a national standard for goals, curriculum, or regulations, with other countries that do, but the findings nevertheless reflect the need for change. Our education system at this time is regulated by states which implement their own curriculum, set their own goals and have their own requirements for teacher preparation. Combined with this is the fact that we have lowered our expectations in these areas, thus we are not providing an equal or quality education to all students across the country. The commission findings generated recommendations to improve the content of education and raise the standards of student achievement, particularly in testing, increase the time spent on education and provide incentives to encourage more individuals to enter the field of education as well as improving teacher preparation. N.Y. State responded to these recommendations by first implementing the Regents Action Plan; an eight year plan designed to raise the standards of education. This plan changed the requirements for graduation by raising the number of credits needed for graduation, raising the number of required core curriculum classes such as social studies, and introduced technology and computer science. The plan also introduced the Regents Minimum Competency Tests, which requires a student to pass tests in five major categories; math, science, reading, writing, and two areas of social studies. Although the plan achieved many of its goals in raising standards of education in N.Y. State, the general consensus is that we need to continue to improve our education system rather than being satisfied with the achievements we have made thus far. Therefore, N.Y. adopted "The New Compact for Learning". This plan is based on the principles that all children can learn. The focus of education should be on results and teachers should aim for mastery, not minimum competency. Education should be provided for all children and authority with accountability should be given to educators and success should be rewarded with necessary changes being made to reduce failures. This plan calls for curriculum to be devised in order to meet the needs of students so that they will be fully functional in society upon graduation, rather than just being able to graduate. Districts within the state have been given the authority to devise their own curriculum, but are held accountable by the state so that each district meets the states goals that have been established. Teachers are encouraged to challenge students to reach their full potential, rather than minimum competency. In this regard, tracking of students is being eliminated so that all students will be challenged, rather than just those who are gifted. Similarly, success should be rewarded with recognition and incentives to further encourage progress for districts, teachers and students while others who are not as accomplished are provided remedial training or resources in order to...
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