Sandra Stotsky writes about the decline in students’ performance, and the level at which testing in schools has gone down. She also describes different modes of testing, and even gives numerical evidence of the decreasing performances of students between grades 3 to 8 (Stotsky). Bruce Fuller, on the other hand, speaks about how politics has infiltrated education. He gives an example of how the New York mayor has exhibited a trend of pumping up student’s performance just to maintain a positive image (Fuller).
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A keen observer of education trend in the country will concur with these observations. Nowadays it seems like students go to school just for the sake of experiencing the education system. Whether they learn or not seems to have gone out through the window. Teachers no longer give attention to the intellectual development of students. Unlike in the past, where teachers would pour their hearts into their jobs and have graduated qualified students, these days they seem to be rushing over the syllabuses and giving students cheap tests.
The blame cannot be placed solely on teachers. The zest with which students used to conduct their studies has also diminished. Since the tests are seemingly of lower quality, students can read less and still perform better. This fact causes them to be lazier with their school work. This is not easily detected because students’ proficiency tests will show that they are passing their examinations. With this trend on the rise, it is no wonder that the current generation of students being produced by the education system is weaker and less productive than it was in the past.
The school system may be experiencing pressure from the political class. Like shown in the article by Fuller, a mayor of a certain town may feel the need to inflate the performance level of the city students in order to look good to his peers. This, however, only goes to benefit the political elite, and not the students. This is also a show of selfishness from the politicians, who are willing to risk the quality of education so as to build their self-image. As Fuller says, some politicians have even reserved to giving teachers syllabuses with questions that are similar to exam questions. If students are given access to exam question forehand, they do not have the initiative to read on their own.
This problem has clearly spread out of schools to homes and the political circles. To counter it, there are some suggestions that the two authors have given. For instance, the politicians can stay out of the education system for good. Education should be left to experts such as teachers. The responsibility of test setting should be given solely to instructors and professors so that they can ensure quality of the results. If students were to sit for a quality examination, the results would show the level of understanding that they have garnered and the amount of information that they have gained from the teachers.
Parents should also show more concern with their children’s studies. Most of them just sit back and let teachers do all the work. This is not right, especially since parents spend a lot of time with their college children. They should monitor their proficiency levels on a personal basis and gauge whether they are legitimate or otherwise. If the country produces academic elites who are incompetent, the economy will suffer in the future. We should hence struggle to avoid this.
For the purpose of understanding this analysis, there are some words that need definition.
i. Proficiency means the ability to do a task excellently.
ii. Zest means enthusiasm to do something.
iii. Intellectual means the understanding of ideas and the ability of one to think and reason.
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