Investing in Evidence: Funding Game-Changing Evaluations

What major evaluations could have the biggest impact on preschool through Grade 12 (P-12) education—providing information that could drive significant improvement in the ways that teachers, principals, and policymakers provide education to American students?

The U.S. Department of Education is committed to helping schools, districts, states, and the federal government use funds as wisely as possible – which means in ways that yield better results for students. As part of that, we are working to build evidence of effective practice – and one of the ways we do that is through conducting evaluations that offer useful guidance for future investments. We are looking to the field to help figure out what evaluations are most useful.

The Congressionally enacted Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014 allows the Department to strengthen the impact of our evaluation work by pooling resources across Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) programs. This makes it possible to fund rigorous evaluations of individual Federal education programs that currently lack sufficient evaluation dollars, and to evaluate the impact of various strategies that cut across a wide range of ESEA programs.

Specifically, we are asking your help to identify what the most pressing education policy and/or practice questions are and how answering them could provide needed information to educators, parents and local, state, and federal governments to enable significant improvements in education. Our goal is to support the development of findings that have the rigor and power to inform significant improvements in how schools, districts, states, and the federal government provide services to students. We are seeking public input on the following questions:

  1. What are the most critical P-12 questions that are still unanswered?
  2. How could answering these questions provide information that could be used by schools, districts, and States to improve student outcomes for all students and/or particular groups of students?
  3. What type of study could answer these questions and produce findings that are reliable and generalizable?
  4. What implications would these findings have for existing practices, policies, and federal programs? Please mention the specific practices, policies, and programs by name if possible.

Submissions can be posted either publicly through the comment section of the blog or by email to evaluationideas@ed.gov by Monday, December 1, 2014. Any evaluations funded with pooled money should be relevant to P-12 programs authorized under ESEA. All opinions, ideas, suggestions and comments are considered informal input. As such, the Department will not provide formal responses to ideas submitted and submissions may or may not be reflected in the final decisions. If including additional information beyond the above four questions, this information should be accessible to all individuals, including individuals with disabilities, and should not include links to advertisements or endorsements. Any advertisements and/or endorsements will be deleted before submissions are posted.

Emily Anthony is senior policy advisor in the Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development at the U.S. Department of Education.

13 Comments

  1. I am delighted that the USDOE has offered this venue to share thoughts on the future of research in P-12 education. As a former teacher, current researcher and program evaluator, and a parent, I have had the opportunity to see a wide variety of programs in place across the nation. The work of determining the impacts of those programs, as well as how to replicate the best of the programs, is of key importance to the future of learning in our nation. As the pace of technology continues to increase and the need for an educated society and workforce continues to expand, so do the essential questions we need to answer in order to respond with high quality teaching and learning environments to meet the needs of all learners. Below is a list of questions that I believe are important to consider as we move forward as a nation.
    • In what ways does blended learning impact students over time? In what ways have schools embraced blended learning over general technology integration? In what ways does personalized learning impact students over time? In what ways have schools embraced personalized learning over differentiated instruction? With what outcomes?
    • What are the impacts of technology (and 1:1 devices) in classrooms? What would a best-practice classroom look like in the 21st Century? How can we rework outmoded and outdated environments to facilitate effective teaching and learning in a technologically rich and robust environment?
    • What 21st Century skills (e.g., team work, communication, collaboration) are the most important to learners and how can they best be integrated into teaching and learning?
    • How are pre-service teaching programs addressing current trends in education, including blended learning and personalized learning? How are they helping teachers move from information givers to facilitators? What impact do these programs have on student outcomes?
    • How and in what ways can we increase the numbers of minority and female students in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) as well as those pursuing careers in STEM fields? It is clear that simply providing courses and content is not enough as we still have disproportionately low numbers of minorities and women in these fields. What best practices exist for encouraging participation? Some possible areas to explore may include adding STEM to the early years (including prek-2), including STEM focused projects in non-STEM courses, as well as mentoring and partnering with experts to support students.
    • How has the testing culture in the United States impacted teaching and learning? How can we revise the testing culture in the United States? No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and Common Core State Standards (CCSS) have left students and teachers breathless as they try to keep up with testing and assessment. While data-driven decision making (DDDM) and formative assessments are invaluable to a reflective and tuned in teacher, they are also time consuming and cumbersome. Quick assessments, technologically supported, can help guide instruction in real time while taking little time out of the instructional day. To that end, my question would be: What methods of assessments (and with what impact) can be used to yield formative data for teachers to target instruction as part of a reflective and functioning classroom? In addition, how can we assess student outcomes but not base those findings on the results of standardized testing (alone)? How would this occur? What would it look like?
    • Mastery learning is an area that needs further evaluation and research. The one-size-fits all format of education where students move from grade level to grade level is constraining and could move towards a more fluid environment where student move at their own pace. To that end, my question would be: What are mastery learning best practices and how can they be instituted in a culture of testing and outcome-based assessments? What are the impacts of these programs?
    • Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are being offered internationally in higher education. What are the outcomes of these courses? Can we harness the power of such technology to support teaching and learning in P-12? For example, offering access to students in rural or small schools who do not have access to certain courses? Distance learning has been used for quite some time in these areas; however, the scale is small. Can/should MOOCs be used to facilitate these learning experiences? Perhaps while being supported by local educators?
    • Open source content is wide ranging and highly valuable. What would be the impact of moving away from textbooks and codified content to more primary and open source content?
    • Early intervention is essential in addressing student needs and helping them succeed. Too often, interventions come too late, or not at all. What would be the academic impact of offering universal preschool to children nationally? What would be the economic impacts of such a program, including on parents of children and on the future earning potential of children?
    • To what extent do the start times of school impact student outcomes? For example, there has been a movement to change school start times for middle school students based on their biological need for sleep. What impacts does this change have on students and their learning, after-school activities, social emotional learning, economics (e.g., after school jobs)?
    • How can we capitalize on learning outside of the school day (self-directed and otherwise)?
    The wide array of questions shared above would allow for a great deal of information for programmatic decision making and dissemination of best practices. In order to respond to these types of questions, a set of rigorous and well thought-out studies would need to be developed. The wide ranging questions that need to be addressed in education require a set of analytic approaches that are both qualitative and quantitative in order to provide nuanced and rich data to inform decisions and help key stakeholders determine best practices for learners. In order to create findings that are reliable and generalizable, it would be essential to have larger scale studies of achievement and other outcomes. However, if we are to determine best practices and impacts on teachers, students, and communities, it is also essential to examine the culture in which programs impact change, including case studies and other qualitative data sources such as interviews, focus groups, and observations of teaching and learning environments.

  2. Career and Technical Education:

    1. How can we create a cohort of rigorously trained CTE instructors. CTE should be framed more like project based learning that leads to a love of learning, exploration of high-level career skills and incorporation of rigorous traditional academic curriculum
    2. What programs of study are most useful for particular geographic areas. For instance, is IT more useful in the West or is it biomedicine?
    3. What programs show the most promise in terms of further academic study and long-term earning potential?
    4. How can Perkins Act mandates improve/halt the improvement of the rigor and integration of CTE into standard academic programs

  3. 1.What are the most critical P-12 questions that are still unanswered?
    How can we realign our thinking about education to enable students to be much more self-directed so they engage independently in gaining knowledge and skills? I think Maria Montessori got it right! Students should be supported by guides who present scaffolded learning opportunities. Children who have learned something reinforce their learning by helping a less experienced child do it. Hands-on activities and a variety of choices within a comprehensive structure of learning objectives. How can we stop looking at school as an age-delineated factory where teachers dump one-size-fits-all content into children’s (previously empty) minds and instead look at it as an enriching community of resources where children can discover and pursue interests and support each other (across multiple age levels) to broaden and deepen their knowledge, curiosity, and ability to learn?

    2.How could answering these questions provide information that could be used by schools, districts, and States to improve student outcomes for all students and/or particular groups of students?

    Today’s world first and foremost calls for citizens to learn how to learn and find new information. While they should and will gain knowledge of certain foundational content, they should go beyond this to learn how to find information on any topic they want to know more about. They need to learn critical thinking and how to assess the validity of sources and information they find. There is far too much information content available today for anyone to internalize most of it. Instead of focusing on a selected pile of facts and content, we need to focus on skills for finding, using and applying information, generating ideas and solutions, and becoming aware of the complex consequences that can and do arise from changes. Systems thinking is an essential element of this. Making changes like this would raise the engagement and the quality of learning in all students, thus improving the results of whatever assessments are used. I would recommend using qualitative portfolios and observation in addition to (or possibly in place of) standardized testing. Though if standardized tests are equitable and designed well (which is extremely difficult and rarely achieved), they provide a nice global benchmark for comparison.

    3.What type of study could answer these questions and produce findings that are reliable and generalizable?
    Do comprehensive research on the learning outcomes from authentic, accredited Montessori education programs (including ones that introduce world language learning from Kindergarten on) and other, similar mixed-age education models that emphasize autonomy within a structured learning environment. Compare the results in these schools with the results from typical public education systems.
    4.What implications would these findings have for existing practices, policies, and federal programs? Please mention the specific practices, policies, and programs by name if possible.
    If the structured, mixed-age classroom with teachers as guides rather than “content distributors” prove to be more effective (as I believe has already been demonstrated), then the entire U.S. education structure and the policy of dividing children into grades by age should be questioned and changed. This should not change the expectation that all children will have mastered certain concepts and skills by certain ages, but will add a lot of flexibility and self-direction, which should help with student engagement and retention. Particularly in the middle and high school ages when teens are naturally exercising their independence, rejecting a system in which the primary message is that they must comply with authorities who tell them what to learn, how, and when, in favor of a more self-directed model in which the students take responsibility for their own learning and for supporting their peers’ learning, I would expect a dramatic difference in engagement, commitment and completion of high school education.

    Other comment: My children were raised through (and performed well in) one of the highest-rated school districts in the U.S. (Howard County, MD) and they emerged with what I feel was a mediocre education. This is a travesty! They were, indeed, far better prepared for college than their peers in other states. I hate to think what the quality of education is in other areas. This is a horrible situation and it is a leading indicator for serious trouble in our nation as these children reach middle age. My husband missed attending a rural one-room school for first grade by just one year. That’s approximately 2-3 generations ago. The currently entrenched education system has not been around as long as people may think. It does not align with the world of 2015 and it MUST be radically changed before 2020 if we have any hope of continuing to thrive as a nation.

  4. What are the most critical P–12 questions that are still unanswered?

    1. My question- What leadership practices promote STEM education in public schools?

    2. How are principals’ leadership decisions driving students’ interest in STEM careers?

    3. Are the survey questions administered for the HSLS currently addressing today’s technologically savvy, wired, and connected-globally students?

    4. What knowledge is of the most worth for today’s students?

  5. 1. What are the most critical P-12 questions that are still unanswered? What is the best way to prepare students for the 21st Century? Is the current practice of federal and state mandated testing preparing students for the 21st Century? Rather than narrow curriculum through standardized testing, we need to be promoting classroom learning that instills in students a curiosity for learning, problem solving skills, and a pursuit for the unknown.
    2. How could answering these questions provide information that could be used by schools, districts, and States to improve student outcomes for all students and/or particular groups of students? By allowing guided district and school autonomy to engage students in meaningful learning.
    3. What type of study could answer these questions and produce findings that are reliable and generalizable? A great study would be looking at what over testing has accomplished in places like China and Japan and contrast that with countries who are seeking to educate students who have skills to navigate a world that is continually changing. Another study would be to retool teacher preparation programs to provide teachers with the skills to teach 21st century learners. Currently teachers have been scripted with skills to prepare students for the industrial age…..we past this.
    4. What implications would these findings have for existing practices, policies, and federal programs? It would change our nations focus of education. Instead of promoting skills, we would push application of skills, problem solving, out of the box thinking, and student autonomy of learning. Please mention the specific practices, policies, and programs by name if possible.

  6. It would seem clear to me that students learn best when they are engaged in their schoolwork and enjoy coming to school. The question is, what factors contribute to student engagement and enjoyment of school, and how do these factors differ for different groups of students? Moreover, how can one predict what groups of students will react to what factors? Knowing the answers to these questions would allow teachers, schools, districts, states, and funding agencies to choose strategies most likely to engage students and thereby create environments that students want to come to and learn in.

    I would suggest that looking into these questions would involve interviews with students on a very large scale across numerous schools, districts, and populations, looking at what engages them and what does not. One would also want to look at the relationship between these factors and the policies of the school, district, and state. Some important questions to be considered are: How can one bridge the gap between student engagement and state-required activities and mandated achievement measures? What are the differences between students that lead to different activities being engaging?

    In a similar vein, it is also undoubtedly true that teachers provide the most effective learning environments when they enjoy what they do and are engaged with the material. Again, one could study what factors contribute to teacher engagement in and enjoyment of teaching and what factors lead to disengagement. Just as importantly, one could look at what can be done to increase the presence of positive factors and decrease the presence of negative ones. Again, this would involve large-scale interviews with large groups of teachers across multiple school settings, with similar concerns to be taken into account as with the students.

  7. I think there is a critical need to assemble student records, test data, etc., easily in one file. It’s the 21st century and I still can’t believe each student in my district has a hard-copy “CA-60” file. We have electronic records, of course, but these are incomplete. When we’re trying to get a history on a student who is having difficulties, we still have to piece through the paper records. The need to have easily accessible data is especially important for students who change schools often.

  8. Greetings, Ms. Anthony– I would echo all of the remarks made by Sharon above. There is a shocking disconnect between work and school that needs to be addressed, and the best way to accomplish that, it seems to me, is to invite business leaders to the conversation. There are many “soft” skills that young adults are not learning because they are being trained to adapt to an academic habitus and its regime of seat time, homework, and assessments. As Sharon points out, that conditioning served the purpose of the Industrial Revolution. It does not prepare 21st century learners.

    But I’d mostly like to weigh in on the dilemma of our students with language based learning disabilities and ADHD. The is a huge body of conclusive scientific evidence that identifies best practices for teaching these students to read, write, and calculate. Those strategies are essentially the foundation of OG: analytic, explicit, structured, multi-sensory, cyclical instruction. Now obviously not every student is going to learn the same way, but I would suggest that whole language instruction fails a great number of kids, particularly those at greatest risk: minorities, lower SES, ELL.

    It is as if, in our rush to enact the noble goals of NCLB, our educational system has forgotten the dialectic inherent in democracy: commonality of outcome must be balanced against individual learning profiles, and we must do more to train our teachers to differentiate instruction. But as long as the goal is success on the PARCC rather than readiness for career and citizenship, we are leaving behind massive numbers of children who will fail to enter our already diminished middle class. Thank you for your important work in disability justice and social equity.

  9. I would like to share some ideas that I hope will help others think about how they respond to the above questions :

    I am writing this as a parent of a child with dyslexia as well as a professional.
    1- take early action: Parents , schools , pediatricians , teaching colleges and professional organizations must develop a new mindset . We have to stop telling parents that ” children all develop at a different rate and they will learn to read when they are ready”. This has been an outdated and incorrect belief for too long as a way of not taking action for early
    identification. I believe The Academy of Pediatric Neurology ran a campaign years ago stating that ” children do not all develop at a different rate , find out now why your child is not developing the skills expected for their age”
    The waiting game is over – take action now . Parents can not be told : ” we will see what happens the rest of the school year , they are only a little behind , your child is not ready to learn to read or he will catch up later”. We have to stop using these phrases and ask ” why is this child not understanding or learning with ease at whatever grade they are at?”. Yes – we have to ask even at the high school level for all those children who slipped through the cracks and were never identified.

    2 early identification – How do we reach the millions of children who can not afford a preschool education ? It can’t be a sign posted at some school or library that offers a one day screening which most parents never see . We must create a national program to evaluate children in preschool and all the children who will enter public school without a preschool experience . Pediatricians now have parent questionnaires asking about ADHD and early signs for autism . We need the same for children at risk for reading, writing and math struggles .
    3 – Teaching colleges – every program in the USA must train teachers before they graduate – see the information on this being distributed by the International Dyslexia Association
    4 Book companies that have contracts with school districts . The people who produce and sell books have a financial interest as well as an ethical obligation to become be a part of this process. .Literacy is not the same thing as literature and people get this confused . We can have fantastic literature ( books of many types ) – but that does not teach literacy ( the ability to read with ease and understanding) . We need books that are decodable – books written for the struggling readers . Math books where the language of math is understandable . Books across the curriculum and in libraries that will help children learn to read . The ” easy reader” books at the library are not decodable or understood by the struggling reader
    5 How can we create a system where schools are not afraid to identify struggling learners ? Teachers and Speech Language Pathologists may feel overwhelmed by the amount of students on their caseload . This is not just about dyslexia. We have to accept the reality that we have an immense unknown reason for a tremendous rise in many learning challenges that impact a school district : ADHD , autism , ESL , executive function disorders , concussions and many more issues . Schools are not prepared or may be understaffed to handle the volume of children who need help . Students are passed from grade to grade without ever receiving services and eventually end up in the ” low group” in high school

    6 how do we educate parents ? Parents are taught to ” trust the school”. If a parent expresses concerns , we must document this concern and take action .However , most parents believe the school when they are told ” do not worry, your child will catch up ” Often a parent will say ” well I never liked to read , write or do math either”. These parents need education to understand they may have a struggling learner so they can advocate for their child . We have to ask , if the child does not pass the evaluation , how can we be sure the school will ” qualify” them to receive services . How far behind dies a child need to be with any evaluation for the school to take action? We can have the best evaluations – but will the school take action and when/ how will they help the struggling reader. Many parents have excellent private evaluations that the schools still will not proceed with services . Parents can ask for years for help with reading , spelling , written expression, math even when evaluations show the student is struggling . After the evaluation , who is available and trained to help the student ?

    7. The global economy – how are our students graduating from our high schools going to be prepared? Many schools still believe that ” a C grade is average”. Average for what ? 1970? A high school student struggling in reading , writing , spelling , math and organizational skills will not be prepared to enter the work force !

    Take a look backwards – the schools need to look at the struggling middle school or high school student and see if they had any indication that those same children were struggling in preschool and elementary school . They answer will be ” yes” but parents were told ” they will catch up , not every child is ready to learn , they are going through puberty, etc”. Yes children who dislike school are usually children with an undiagnosed learning problem .

    Finally — evaluations must be ongoing and not done a few times a year . An entire year can slip by before a child is identified as being at risk . Actually , all of elementary school can slip by before the child receives help . This is too late . Schools may be afraid to change the evaluation methods they use now because it takes time, money and effort to make these changes. Parents may be told on a report card that ” your child is at level 18 for reading”. What does that mean ?- most parents have no idea . We need evaluations that explain in simple terms if the child is learning to read with ease , fast enough and understanding what they read . We need evaluations that show can the child read the material and demonstrate writing skills that show they have learned the material . I will end with thanking our country for realizing that this is a national movement that must take place to help all children believe that school is a place they will be able to learn in a way that makes sense to them .
    Please excuse any typos from my small cell phone

  10. Thank you Nancy Duggan of Decoding Dyslexia-MA.

    As a special educator and parent of a student with dyslexia, I agree that the impact of dyslexia, which the NIH notes impacts 1:5 students in the US, is significant and warrants significant action. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2528651/

    We know that students with dyslexia can be remediated with evidence based, sequential, explicit, multi-sensory instruction. We also know that without this intervention, these students will continue to fail and their academic achievement will suffer across all curriculum areas as they progress in grades.

  11. What are the most critical P-12 questions that are still unanswered?
    As a thriving grassroots movement of parents and professionals concerned about reading and literacy skills particularly for students with reading/print disabilities Decoding Dyslexia MA believes the most critical questions include:
    1. How do schools ensure that students with disabilities are identified early (before 2nd grade) and provided with evidence based interventions (specifically proven effective for dyslexia) without delay?
    2. How do we ensure that all teachers understand how to identify students at risk for reading and print disabilities?
    3. How do we ensure that teachers understand how to determine the appropriateness of a method based on the science of how typical and atypical students learn?

    How could answering these questions provide information that could be used by schools, districts, and States to improve student outcomes for all students and/or particular groups of students?

    The focus suggested is not on what should be done to remediate effectively (though we support that research as well) but since there is ample knowledge of what can be done based on how the brain (typical and dyslexic) learns to read, and according to the testimony at the Congressional Hearing on the Science of Dyslexia (9/18/2013) of Sally Shaywitz of the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity: “there is a lack of action”.
    The problem lies in guiding teachers, schools and administrators on how to use this information effectively to improve reading outcomes for students with dyslexia and other reading disabilities, answering the questions above as to how to enable teachers and schools to take action based on the science is the critical step that could improve reading outcomes.

    What type of study could answer these questions and produce findings that are reliable and generalizable?
    Studies already show that students at risk for reading disabilities (based on hereditary factors and/or simple screening of phonological processing or rapid automatic naming) can be identified. New studies need to explore the most effective way to inform teachers and early childhood educators how to identify at risk students. Only when teacher and early childhood educators understand how to find and provide interventions for at risk students early will outcomes improve so that students receive intervention and support early on before reading failure.
    Studies should also include how assistive technology and accessible instructional materials can improve outcomes.

    What implications would these findings have for existing practices, policies, and federal programs? Please mention the specific practices, policies, and programs by name if possible.
    As parents we are perhaps not experts in how to design studies, we are however very familiar with the existing practices, policies and federal programs that are failing many students. Many schools and teachers are not aware of the scientific evidence that dyslexia is a brain based disability, and do not have the teaching methods and tools that would reduce reading failure by early intervention and improve reading outcomes. The compounding nature of the disability if not detected early and addressed with sequenced, explicit multi sensory instruction causes comprehension problems across the curriculum for those that can not access curriculum through the printed word. Schools and teachers want to provide instruction that will enable reading success and access to the curriculum for all students. Studies to implement effective screening and early intervention for dyslexia as well as studies to best train teachers to allow for accessible instruction materials will be of great value to students. It is generally well accepted by many, including National Institute for Health, and other sources that reading proficiency is a key to healthy and successful outcomes. It is also known that Reading Disability, including dyslexia is the most prevalent cause of learning disability. Research to move scientifically proven programs to the classrooms would have a large target of potentially successful students improving reading proficiency.

  12. Dear Ms. Anthony-
    I am a junior high teacher of 13 years in a small rural town in Texas. In all honesty, I am not usually very political, but I feel very strongly that U.S. education is in need of serious reform. Therefore, I am responding to your blog post to evaluate P-12 education in the United States to improve the education of American students.

    I believe P-12 teachers in general are feeling the strain of an outdated and ineffective education system, however most do not have (or take) the time to reflect upon the macroeconomics of education. We teachers are in the micro ‘trenches’ if you will, of everyday teaching and assessing of students, preparing students for the STAAR tests, leaving us little time to step back and review the entire process of the U.S. education system itself.

    In answer to your questions above:
    1.What are the most critical P-12 questions that are still unanswered?

    A. How can the P-12 US education system more adequately prepare young people to enter the US workforce?
    Local employers in this area state repeatedly that recent high school graduates do not have the basic skills needed to be successful employees.
    B. How can the P-12 education system closer emulate a successful business, i.e. producing an acceptable, profitable ‘product’ (graduate)?
    If a business finds they are producing a faulty product, the business reviews the process immediately, correcting the problem. If they do not, the business will eventually close due to a lack of demand for their product.
    C. How can the US assess the success of a student’s education without putting so much emphasis on one test?
    One test on one day (or even 3 chances to take a test) is not a fair, accurate way of assessing a student’s grasp of content in education.
    D. How can the education system make up for gaps and flaws in students’ home lives that cause those students to come to school unready (and sometimes unable) to learn?

    2.How could answering these questions provide information that could be used by schools, districts, and States to improve student outcomes for all students and/or particular groups of students?
    The information provided by these questions could then be used by the states to begin to completely re-vamp the current education system to allow for gradual improvement of the current process and practices, eventually reaching success in creating a high school graduate prepared and ready for the next level in life: be that continued education or entrance into the workforce.

    3.What type of study could answer these questions and produce findings that are reliable and generalizable?
    A ‘think tank’ or panel of parents, teachers, administration, industry executives and politicians from all over the country could reach out to fellow workers, constituents etc. to come up with ideas to help fix the problems. These ideas could then be hammered into a basic plan to be considered at the federal level. States could then take the plan and make it their own as necessary for each state and school district. That panel would need to remain intact through the implementation of the plan to work out problems as they arise.

    4.What implications would these findings have for existing practices, policies, and federal programs? Please mention the specific practices, policies, and programs by name if possible.
    I see this plan as taking existing practices down to the ‘bare bone’ so to speak. Things in the education system (around since the 1800’s) need to be rethought and brought into the 21st century. Student competencies should replace grades. The school system should have career pathways built into it rather than making the flawed assumption most students are college bound. Schools should become more self-sustaining-allowing students to have more responsibility for their own education. W-O-R-K needs to become part of the curriculum, instead of students being fed information. Apathy abounds in today’s school system. I truly believe it is because the students are handed a free education instead of being required to have a part in earning it. Anything handed to you for free doesn’t feel as important as something for which you have worked.

    Finally, I believe with all my heart that if the US doesn’t do some serious re-vamping of the US education system, our wonderful country’s best days are behind us. I also believe if we can harness today’s youth with their 21st century abilities through a well-thought-out up to date education system, this country will become empowered again.

    Please contact me to discuss. Thank you for your time.

  13. I am not sure this will “fit” into this category but I do not understand how a country so big and so smart can’t get our children to learn. I even as a parent that pushes education and encourages my children to do well in school/college am having a very, very hard time getting my son to care about his education. So that parents do not have to fight their kids when they come in from work, esp. in single mother families, (also mothers (females) make less money and have more stress because of it) kids should be in a classroom learning until 5pm daily! This way students can have PE everyday (may help with ADHD), as they should and other programs that are usually cut (art, music, horticulture). Each school could grow their own gardens and use these food items to eat at school. They would have time to learn new languages, which are not taught in Ele. school where they should be….plus other countries require this! Math…don’t even get me started…when a child needs help, when they are at home doing “homework” and the parent is not educated enough to teach it, learn it or know it already, this child suffers (along with the parent). They want to learn it but there is not enough time in the day to approach the teacher for help. No wonder the poor stay poor…etc. they can’t get educated enough to get out of this circle! There is NO summer school programs, no assistance with teaching parents how to teach their kids….YET it is expected. With my plan of 8am-5pm (4:30pm for long bus riders, if necessary) school children would not have homework, they’d do it all at school therefore leaving time at home for FAMILY. When children have to do homework and the parents do not understand it how can they help? This is a win, win….teachers are paid more, plus wouldn’t have to work at home, parents are not stressed out trying to help their children and have to rush home to do homework they do not understand, it would help with kids that are getting into trouble after school because are in school until parents are home from work. I wish someone would explain to me why this couldn’t take place. Just a worried mom and citizen… We have to do something and stop talking about it…with all of the Federal Funds schools get I just don’t understand why there are not resources out there to help parents help their children OR the country provide after school events for kids to be able to enroll in so they don’t fall behind and keep falling. They pass these kids to the next grade, just to get them moving forward and we are doing nothing but hurting our own selves doing this! They are who will be working while you and I are in the “old folks homes” and to be honest…..I don’t believe this generation would care if we where in the “old folks home” not being fed and rotting….they just don’t seem to think an education is important and I, whom is living with out it, do. If they only knew!!!

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