It is no surprise to anyone that our public school system is gravely failing our children. Students aren’t learning the basic skills needed in adulthood nor are they retaining the majority of the knowledge that they are given. Worst of all, teachers have to spend valuable time reviewing the previous year’s work to ensure all pupils are at an equal knowledge base.
Each teacher has a school board approved curriculum to guide their lesson plan. While the curriculum states what concepts should be attained during a specific grade span, no concrete lessons are explain. For example the skill expectation in math may be “Uses properties or attributes of angles or sides to identify, describe, or distinguish among (specific shapes).” That seems to make sense, right? And that expectation could be spread from second to fourth grade, so which teacher teaches it? Second? Third? Fourth? The way this usually works is the school decides to purchase books that they believe adequately covers the expected curriculum. The teachers design their individual lesson plans around the material in the textbook and the material they are encourage to cover by the administration. Now say there are three different classrooms in third grade. Each teacher designs a different lesson plan covering different material and maybe not getting around to some material at all or covering more than the required material.
Flash ahead to the next school year. Seven students from a class that didn’t cover enough, ten students from a class that covered everything necessary and four students from a class that managed to go a little further are now in the same classroom. No matter how the teacher teaches there are going to be some issues – students left behind or students bored with endless review…nothing effective in this system.
There are additional problems when pupils go from several different elementary schools into a middle school and when students move out of the district, or worse, out of the state, finding a completely different set of standards and expectations.
What needs to happen is the United States needs to develop and adopt a Uniform National Curriculum clearly outlining what teachers need to teach at every grade level. A standard federal curriculum would keep every student attempting to achieve the highest standards possible. Students unable to keep up would be given special attention just as they are currently. Granted this wouldn’t solve all the problems with the public school system. There would still be students that would learn faster or slower than others and each teacher has a different teaching style which can affect absorption and retention. But at least this would put every student in America on the same educational page.