are some fundamental assumptions built into the way we educate in America’s
public schools today. These assumptions are all false, and declaring
them politically correct will not make them true.
IS NOT TRUE THAT:
All children are capable of equally high achievement in all disciplines.
2. All children of the same age should be able to learn, progress,
and meet benchmark standards at substantially the same time.
3. We can devise interventions that insure that none of our struggling
students will fall "behind."
4. All children should go to a college or university.
are some unquestionable results of the educational system which is based
on the above assumptions in use in America’s public schools today.
Nearly 30% of students drop out before high school graduation.
2. Nearly all drop outs have either been socially promoted, retained,
3. Over 60% of high school graduates enroll in some form college or
post-secondary training program.
4. About 30% of high school students graduate with the qualifications
to immediately enroll in a full program of college level instruction.
5. About 40% of entering college freshmen are required to take remedial
classes, before they are granted enrollment in college level courses
point suggests that about 40% of our high school graduates have been
socially promoted at least once, or that in many cases, our criterion
for a passing grade is woefully low. The points taken together suggest
that our K-12 public school system is short-changing at least 70% of
students fail to meet the benchmark standards of a class in the expected
time, and are passed along to the next grade level with a “D”
grade, they are, with few exceptions, virtually condemned to a continual
pattern of low achievement. Even though students may be promoted, they
know very well that they have learned little or nothing, and that they
are not on par with their peers.
students require more support and more time to learn than the system
can give, and are subsequently retained or socially promoted, the stigma
of failure diminishes self-esteem and has a negative effect on motivation.
leads to a series of choices by which students slowly extricate themselves
first from the mainstream of the school and eventually from society.
Such students have learned that at least for them, the educational system
provides no real success and no reward, so they disconnect and eventually
students and teachers are caught in the crossfire between political
demands and the everyday realities of the classroom. Leaders are calling
upon schools to bring all students up to grade level as measured by
standardized test scores. This is an impossible task. For all students
to surpass the 50th percentile, and perform at grade level, the norms
on which the test is based would be invalidated. By definition, half
of the students must be below the 50th percentile.
result of all of the political chest-thumping and bar-raising is that
more and more students are going to be labeled as failures. And just
as disturbingly, our schools and our teachers are being labeled
educational system generates a de-facto caste system in our schools
that carries over in our society. This cripples the vast majority of
our young people and points them toward a life-course that falls far
short of the intent of our mission statements.
spite of decades of declarations, mandates, and remedial intervention
programs, the trend is undeniably downward and the cost to society is
the degree that our professional education community has accepted personal
responsibility for what is really a systemic failure, we continue to
confuse the real issues, and real change for substantial improvement