Ah, so that’s the problem with the American education system.

The NY Times has an article on .”>problems with the US education system

The author, Diane Ravitch, points out the following:

It is hardly fair to blame high schools for the poor skills of their entering students. If students start high school without the basic skills needed to read, write and solve mathematics problems, then the governors should focus on strengthening the standards of their states’ junior high schools.

So that’s the problem: the US expects senior high schools to teach grammar school subjects. And Ms Ravitch thinks the solution is to get junior high schools to do it instead…

If a student can not adequately read, write, and perform arithmetic by the end of grammar school (primary school here in Oz), then either keep them there or flag them as a special needs student. Heck, if they can’t do it by grade 4 there’s an issue.

Earlier in the article:

Only a minority of students – whether in 4th, 8th or 12th grade – reach proficiency as measured by the Education Department’s National Assessment of Educational Progress.

Big surprise: if they’re not proficient at grade 4, a student is unlikely to become so in grade 8. This is really simple: if a student starts to slip behind, they need to be caught fast – the longer you leave it, the less likely they’ll ever become proficient.

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Author: Robert Watkins

My name is Robert Watkins. I am a software developer and have been for over 18 years now. I currently work for people, but my opinions here are in no way endorsed by them (which is cool; their opinions aren’t endorsed by me either). My main professional interests are in Java development, using Agile methods, with a historical focus on building web based applications. I’m also a Mac-fan and love my iPhone, which I’m currently learning how to code for. I live and work in Brisbane, Australia, but I grew up in the Northern Territory, and still find Brisbane too cold (after 16 years here). I’m married, with two children and one cat. My politics are socialist in tendency, my religious affiliation is atheist (aka “none of the above”), my attitude is condescending and my moral standing is lying down.

3 thoughts on “Ah, so that’s the problem with the American education system.”

  1. You might be getting side tracked by the real issue of schooling. Read John Gatto. Looke has an interesting in to this information from her blog.

    Also, my kids go a Steiner School. They don’t actually start learning to read until age 7, and it doesn’t really ramp up until about 8. They are way ahead (of the average public school reading level) a few years later. Its part of a well thought out philosophy that seems to be working well for our kids.

  2. The “real issue” of schooling is that the US system is highly dysfunctional. And yes, I’ve read Gatto.

    Not all school systems are like that. The Australian one certainly isn’t.

    As for the not learning to read until 7, that may work for some kids, but it certainly won’t work for others. A number of kids self-teach themselves to read before school age (I did) simply by working out the association between pictures and words. You want to hold these kids back until 7? All this just goes to show that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to education.

  3. I don’t disagree with your comments, and under Steiner the children are not prevented from learning to read earlier.

    My point was also about expectations placed on children, and with Steiner, the focus is on different topics at that stage. However, there is no discouragement or “holding back” either.

    Both my boys (age 4 and 8) are actively teaching themselves, out of interest rahter than mandate and its great to see (and help).

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