Since the early 1980"s, the issue of America"s faltering public school system has become a serious concern. The crisis in K-12 education is one of the biggest challenges facing the nation. Should there be set standardized tests given to students, and furthermore, should the United States adopt a national curriculum to keep up with the standards of other countries?
Lynn Davey and Monty Neill suggest in their essay entitled, "The Case against a National Test" that, "U. S. olicymakers and the public have been deluged with proposals for national testing", because the failure of the nation to adequately educate the students of America has an endless list of negative effects. The pathetically low results of American students through international test scores in the United States suggests that with the lack of proper education, generations of children are growing up without the basic, essential knowledge needed to be able to compete in the workplace.
Lynn Davey also states, "But because the United States has no national system of achievement testing, we cannot validly compare students" performance across the nation", in her essay entitled "The Case for a National Test". Albert Shanker, who was president of the American Federation of Teachers claims in his essay entitled, "Are American Schools Too Easy? " that, "In countries where there is a national curriculum, fewer students are lost, and fewer teachers are lost because they know what the students who walk into their classroom have already studied"(122).
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This is a good point, but in the United States students and teachers are allowed to express their ideas creatively. Not all teachers in the U. S. teach in the same manner, and for this reason it would be hard to establish a national curriculum in which all teachers taught the same things at the same time. In his essay entitled, "The Tyranny of a National Curriculum" Marc Bernstein suggests that, "People that support a national testing program believe that too many students are failing to perform to their potential and that drastic steps need to be taken to improve their education".
But what American students need is school reform, not more testing. "More test scores will not magically produce educational improvement" (Davey & Neill). The people that support national testing should slow down for a moment and realize that testing is not the first step in learning, and start focusing on helping students in rural towns as opposed to larger cities.
While there are real differences in the educational opportunities of poor and rich students, standardized tests exaggerate these differences by their biases and confuse lack of ability with lack of exposure" (Davey & Neill). "France and Japan, for instance, have strict national curriculums" (Davey). "Since a government agency decides educational content, if the agency makes a mistake, all schools are forced to go along with it. Such a risk can be avoided if the power to decide educational content is transferred to state and local governments" (Chapter 3).
The American educational system operates in this way, leaving the choices for educational content up to the 50 state and local governments. This is beneficial to the United States because with such a diverse population it leaves the door open to adjust content if needed to suit certain schools in different towns and cities. Freedom is the trademark of America, and people of other countries because of this admire Americans. The American educational system tries to develop freedom and creativity among its students.
It allows students to explore their ideas freely and teaches them to believe they can do anything they put their minds to. One can say that the American educational system is different from other countries educational systems. However, one cannot express the idea that the American system is worse than any other educational system. Sure the system does need some reform, but to drastically say we need a national curriculum, I think not.
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