Essay: Educational reform in the US

The United States was fearful of Soviet technological and military advancements after the Sputnik launch, the panicky media, and political discussions that followed. Legislators were reluctant to have federal government play a role in education , but when the Soviets launched Sputnik, that changed (Zhao, 2009). The Sputnik launch led to the National Defense Education Act (NDEA), which was passed in 1958.
The NDEA was the first of many as federal government’s involvement in education increased. In the ensuing decades, the federal government passed more legislation concerning education, including the Vocational Education Act of 1963, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1964, and the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002.
Created during the Bush administration, No Child Left Behind has been a significant addition of recent education reform efforts in the United States. Although it “promised a new era of high standards, testing, and accountability” so no child is left behind, its idea of good education is “good” marks on standardized tests in math and reading (Ravitch, 2010). It requires that children be given state exams in reading and math from grades 3 through 8.
The issue with standardized tests (and the intelligence quotient tests), however, is that they quantify intelligence unfairly, basing it off on the student’s ability to compute and read. Just a couple of student’s abilities, ‘scholastic’ intelligences (like reading comprehension and math), are assessed (Hoerr, 2000). One reason for this may be that it is fairly easy to design paper and pencil tests to assess writing, reading, and computation skills. Designing dependable tests to evaluate students’ artistic or nature skills, for example, is much more challenging and more expensive. In addition, standardized tests, where one can fill in bubbles on their scantrons, are easy to grade, record, and compare scores, which is quite important for America’s data driven society (“The Downside of Standardized Tests”, 2009). However, students are more than just a number.
In addition, closing the gaps between the United States and other countries has been a vehement force because it concerns the future of the U.S. economy. The sense of an economic threat from other countries has been associated with the sense that the American education system is much inferior to theirs. Trends in Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), administered once every four years, provides data on how each country is doing in terms of education. Each time, Eastern Asians, like Koreans, consistently score better than Americans. The U.S. improvement rates aren’t significant; one would expect NCLB to make a difference. Our education system is flawed. (general)
Real-world success, however, count on more than skills in the logical-mathematical and linguistic areas. Thus, standardized tests offer little practical predictive information about future success. Most jobs want someone who is able to think critically, which is something standardized, multiple-choice tests can’t measure (Forbes, 2014). As Howard Gardner proposes, there is a larger range of intelligence: ___ . Schools should incorporate Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligence in order to better education by cultivating and stimulating the students’ minds.
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