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Shocking News: American Schools Suck Everywhere
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bucheon bum



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Location: DC area

PostPosted: Thu Dec 02, 2010 7:34 am    Post subject: Shocking News: American Schools Suck Everywhere Reply with quote

Your Child Left Behind

Quote:
Even if we treat each state as its own country, not a single one makes it into the top dozen contenders on the list. The best performer is Massachusetts, ringing in at No. 17. Minnesota also makes it into the upper-middle tier, followed by Vermont, New Jersey, and Washington. And down it goes from there, all the way to Mississippi, whose students—by this measure at least—might as well be attending school in Thailand or Serbia.


Maybe it is all those immigrants and poor people that make the US look bad right? Nope, afraid not:

Quote:
On a percentage basis, New York state has fewer high performers among white kids than Poland has among kids overall. In Illinois, the percentage of kids with a college-educated parent who are highly skilled at math is lower than the percentage of such kids among all students in Iceland, France, Estonia, and Sweden.


So what did Massachussets do to improve its schools? Spend more money? No. Reduce class size? No.

Quote:
Massachusetts made it harder to become a teacher, requiring newcomers to pass a basic literacy test before entering the classroom. (In the first year, more than a third of the new teachers failed the test.) The state also required students to pass a test before graduating from high school—a notion so heretical that it led to protests in which students burned state superintendent David Driscoll in effigy. To help tutor the kids who failed, the state moved money around to the places where it was needed most. “We had a system of standards and held people to it—adults and students,” Driscoll says.


Pretty sensical stuff. The good news:

Quote:
However haltingly, more states are finally beginning to follow the lead of Massachusetts. At least 35 states and the District of Columbia agreed this year to adopt common standards for what kids should know in math and language arts—standards informed in part by what kids in top-performing countries are learning. Still, all of the states, Massachusetts included, have a long way to go. Last year, a study comparing standardized math tests given to third-graders in Massachusetts and Hong Kong found embarrassing disparities. Even at that early age, kids in Hong Kong were being asked more-demanding questions that required more-complex responses.


Better late than never I suppose.
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pkang0202



Joined: 09 Mar 2007

PostPosted: Thu Dec 02, 2010 7:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

US secondary schools have always lagged behind the rest of the world. Where US students end up catching up is at the University level.

However, with a graduation rate of about 50% in US Universities, and a ~25% population with a bachelor's degree or higher, it seems like University education is just survival of the fittest.

Non competitive schools had like a 35% graduation rate while competitive schools were around 80%.

Compare that to the graduation rate of say Korean Universities. I recall hearing the graduation rate was above 90%.

Stats may be a off a little. I did a report on US education a few years back and am trying to recall the numbers off the top of my head. Anyways, the exact numbers aren't important. In my opinion, even though the education level doesn't measure up, what really matters is productivity, which Americans lead consistently.
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jvalmer



Joined: 06 Jun 2003

PostPosted: Thu Dec 02, 2010 9:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

pkang0202 wrote:
what really matters is productivity, which Americans lead consistently.

It's mostly immigration that keeps the productivity high. More for less money. Cut off immigration to the US for a generation and those productivity numbers wouldn't look so impressive.
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chellovek



Joined: 29 Feb 2008

PostPosted: Thu Dec 02, 2010 9:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Peking, I believe the US scores highly in universities for research output rather than teaching. My dad's a professor in the US and he's generally pretty scathing about the teaching at undergraduate level. He equates it to the standards of a British A-Level.

There's no real shock in this story though I suppose, the loud dumb American is a famous, if unpleasant, stereotype *sigh*
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bucheon bum



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Location: DC area

PostPosted: Fri Dec 03, 2010 5:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

jvalmer wrote:
pkang0202 wrote:
what really matters is productivity, which Americans lead consistently.

It's mostly immigration that keeps the productivity high. More for less money. Cut off immigration to the US for a generation and those productivity numbers wouldn't look so impressive.


And if our education system doesn't improve, it wouldn't be a surprise if we fall back in productivity in the next decade or two.
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mises



Joined: 05 Nov 2007
Location: retired

PostPosted: Fri Dec 03, 2010 7:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

jvalmer wrote:
pkang0202 wrote:
what really matters is productivity, which Americans lead consistently.

It's mostly immigration that keeps the productivity high. More for less money. Cut off immigration to the US for a generation and those productivity numbers wouldn't look so impressive.


You mean a wage decline. A wage decline is not a productivity increase. It is a transfer from workers to capital.
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bucheon bum



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Location: DC area

PostPosted: Wed Dec 08, 2010 1:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dropout rate for CA Blacks 37%

Quote:
More than a third of California's African American public high school students dropped out before graduation day, a startling number and one that's on the rise, according to 2009 data released Tuesday.


Meanwhile in Shanghai...

Quote:
With China’s debut in international standardized testing, students in Shanghai have surprised experts by outscoring their counterparts in dozens of other countries, in reading as well as in math and science, according to the results of a respected exam.
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rollo



Joined: 10 May 2006
Location: China

PostPosted: Wed Dec 08, 2010 8:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I do believe that the test were fair and technically well administered.

The problem is it is easy to "game" the system by stocking the test group with the best students.

In the case of the Chinese even the administrators of the test thought that that had happened.

These tests do not seem to really give a total picture of what is going on.
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Captain Corea



Joined: 28 Feb 2005
Location: Seoul

PostPosted: Wed Dec 08, 2010 11:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Where'd you hear that about administrator's concerns? I had heard reports saying that all thought it was quite fair.
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rollo



Joined: 10 May 2006
Location: China

PostPosted: Sat Dec 11, 2010 2:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Read the article closely. The administrators thought the test were administered in a competent fair way but that there was a chance that the test pool of students could be manipulated.
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Captain Corea



Joined: 28 Feb 2005
Location: Seoul

PostPosted: Sat Dec 11, 2010 10:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

rollo wrote:
Read the article closely. The administrators thought the test were administered in a competent fair way but that there was a chance that the test pool of students could be manipulated.


that is different than this.


rollo wrote:
In the case of the Chinese even the administrators of the test thought that that had happened.
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Kuros



Joined: 27 Apr 2004

PostPosted: Wed Dec 29, 2010 10:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

American schools do not suck, they just test as if they contain many non-native English speakers.

Quote:
Let's be clear about what we can and cannot learn from this approach. Outside variables -- the diversity of U.S. languages and cultures -- can muddy the results of a standardized test when we're matched up against more uniform classrooms. Some major news outlets treat the PISA scores as a conclusion, rather than a useful, if flawed, indicator of achievement.

But the fact that the United States is diverse shouldn't be an excuse for throwing out two decades of international studies showing us falling behind the rest of the world. Researchers who have studied schools in Japan, Singapore, Finland and other consistently "elite" performers note gaping differences in the structure of the school day, the way teachers are incentivized, and the way math and science is taught overseas. Those lessons shouldn't be discounted as irrelevant given our cultural differences, but they should be considered in the context of the United States' unique education challenges.


I think American mathematics programs are weak, though. But I've heard even that is getting better.
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Artris



Joined: 09 Jun 2009

PostPosted: Wed Dec 29, 2010 4:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I really wonder about the public school system in the US. As a child I moved about ten times (that I can remember). I've been to public schools in New York, Virginia and Vermont. The total number of public schools I've been to is five. I've also been to three private schools and I was even home schooled at one point.

I have to say that my experience in one of the private schools was excellent (a catholic high school) and in the other two was horrid (christian academies). I feel that the uniforms in the high school helped greatly. The school in general kept the population under control. The christian academies were probably the worst schools I've ever been to. The teachers there cared, of course, but they also focused too much on religion and, overall, the teachers were under qualified.

The public schools were a mixed bag. I've been to three different grade schools, one middle school and one high school. I have to say the high school was the most impressive. I recognized drug problems at both the middle school and high school level: I was actually offered drugs in both. I'm pretty sure that a gang was working on recruiting me in the middle school, as well as the high school, level. The grade schools were actually pretty good: both introduced me to some excellent literature for the level and had a decent math department.

The high school had an excellent range of courses: they offered German, French, Spanish and Chinese for languages. They had computer labs, a typing class and a library complete with internet access for students (at the time that was impressive). Each year they held a job fair in the gym for all students, of all levels, to attend and talk to professions from their respective industries (I remember seeing a CAD program in action for the first time from one of those fairs).

The middle school also had an excellent selection: shop, a class labeled "Technology" which covered everything from programming and circuitry to chemistry and astronomy, they also had classes for aspiring musicians. I played the violin but there were certainly other options. The library here was huge, even compared to the high school I mentioned.

The Vermont High School is rather frightening, to be honest. They have a huge selection of programs, but students don't actually get grades as it were. The school is all about keeping the students at ease. The students advance to each level and get write ups based on how they interact with each other and the teachers. There are expressions of concern instead of academic probations. This is my impression from watching my sister and brother deal with it.

The other issue is special needs students and teachers salaries. If you look at what it costs on a per student level to run a high school you will find that private schools pay less per student, significantly less. This is because private schools can be far more focused: they offer less options, less languages for example, but do very well with what they offer. They also don't need to deal with special needs students because they don't admit them. Teachers have excellent job security and a lot of time off but, if they were paid more, perhaps schools would get teachers more qualified and gifted (imagine if teachers were paid as much as doctors or lawyers: what sort of teachers would we have?). Attaining a job solely for security doesn't say much about the attainer.

To generalize, schools in the USA tend to offer too many options and try to help too many people. It is harsh but I think that the US should reduce the number of languages and arts offered at all levels: instead focus on two language options. If you want your son to learn the piano, hire a tutor. The issue with special needs students is going to make me very unpopular here, but I'm not convinced that a state or federal government should be responsible for them. Perhaps each state should only have a handful of schools to deal with special needs students. The students could commute to these schools. The other option is to refund the education money to the parents of said students and allow the parents to enroll their students in a private school. This may sound bad but actually it could be quite good for the students: again, currently the government spends far more on education than private schools do.
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mises



Joined: 05 Nov 2007
Location: retired

PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2011 5:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Richard Posner, one of the most cited legal scholars in the US (according to his wiki) discusses the bad schools vs bad students debate:

http://www.becker-posner-blog.com/2011/01/the-pisa-rankings-and-the-role-of-schools-in-student-performance-on-standardized-testsposner.html

Quote:
The rankings tend to be interpreted as measures of the quality of a nation’s pre-collegiate school system (primary and secondary education, since primary education influences performance in secondary schools). But this may be a mistake. Schooling is only one, though doubtless an important, input into performance on the PISA tests. Another is IQ. There have been some efforts to compare IQ across countries, notably by Richard Lynn and Tatu Vanhanen; see their 2006 book IQ and Global Inequality. Their results cannot be regarded as definitive, given significant limitations in the data, but they are suggestive. The authors find that the East Asian countries, which generally rank highest on the PISA tests (including reading—not just math and sciene), have the highest average IQs; the average IQ of Americans is lower because of our large black and Hispanic populations, which have lower average IQs than whites and Asians.

IQ is understood to reflect both genetic endowment and environmental factors, particularly factors operative very early in a child’s life, including prenatal care, maternal health, the educational level of the parents, family stability, and poverty (all these are correlated, and could of course reflect low IQs of parents as well as causing low IQs in their children). The case for very early intervention in children’s development, powerfully urged by the distinguished University of Chicago economist James Heckman, can be understood as an effort to lift IQs in the black and Hispanic communities and by doing so improve the educational performance of black and Hispanic children, including performance on the PISA tests. It is true that Heckman emphasizes noncognitive skills that facilitate learning, but these skills could also increase performance on IQ tests, indicating a positive effect on IQ.

The 2009 PISA test scores reveal that in American schools in which only a small percentage (no more than 10 percent) of the students receive free lunches or reduced-cost lunches, which are benefits provided to students from poor families, the PISA reading test scores are the highest in the world. But in the many American schools in which 75 percent or more of the students are from poor families, the scores are the second lowest among the 34 countries of the OECD; and the OECD includes such countries as Mexico, Turkey, Portugal, and Slovakia.

If IQ is playing a significant role in America’s mediocre showing on the PISA tests, improvements in secondary school education are unlikely to have dramatic effects. The white and Asian kids in American schools are already doing fine, for the most part; the black and Hispanic kids may not do much better until their early childhood environment is improved to the point at which black and Hispanic IQs are raised significantly.


The schools are fine.
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methdxman



Joined: 14 Sep 2010

PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2011 7:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Most Americans never want to admit that some things in America are not as good as they are in other countries.

We keep hearing growing up that it's the greatest country in the world, but most people have never been able to PERSONALLY benchmark anything American against anything else.

Most Americans cannot fathom that health care may be better in other parts of the world. They cannot fathom that there might be graduate schools that are better in other parts of the world. People think that the only good doctors in the world are in the U.S. Best cars? Electronics (Apple excluded)? Internet service? Trains? Airlines? Actors? Movies?

The public education system sucks in the U.S. Parents are gigantic vaginas and are responsible for this utter failure of an education ecosystem. They're too concerned with bitching about stupid stuff that doesn't even matter like prayer, pledge of allegiance, evolution, etc. "I'm not gonna allow anyone to tell my kid that he/she should _____" It's like STFU bitch! Your kid doesn't even know where Russia is! Tell your punk ass kid "Cody" that he can't ever leave the house until he gets a B average on his next report card and maybe the US can regain the #1 slot in the world again.

The good thing is that all the US has to do to make up for it is to relax some visa rules so we can actually get smart, skilled people into the labor force. Of course this will piss off most Americans and of course we'll have a spike in racism/anti-immigrant sentiment.
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