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#31 of 59 Old 12-23-2007, 04:52 PM
 
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I could have written USAmma's post almost word for word about South Korea, where I lived and taught English in a private language institute, both children and adults. My husband is from South Korea and was educated completely in South Korean schools and his family lives entirely there.

From my observation, and from what dh has told me, the focus in Korean classrooms is on core academics - math, science, Korean, English, etc. Art and music is taught in schools but not with as much emphasis as here in the US. Private institutes exist for kids to enrich themselves in after school classes in these areas and most kids do attend these daily. Class sizes in Korean public schools are very large - around 60 per class and the subject material is taught largely by rote memorization. The culture is very academically focused. Kids from age 5+ live and breathe education. They attend school during the day and then go directly to their art, music, tae kwon do, English, etc. classes at private academies, which incidentally are very affordable. It is not unusual for middle and high school students to arrive home at night at 10 PM or later just to start again the next morning. School is in session six days per week, approximately 10 months per year. There really isn't any focus at all on kids' play like there is here. Even the one month they get off in the summer and in the winter each are spent attending classes of some sort. In fact, these times of year were the busiest for us as private institute teachers and we often taught several extra classes each day on top of our regular workload. Weekend classes are the norm. Families sacrifice whatever they have to for the sake of their children's education. How well kids do in elementary school determines what level middle and high school they attend and this influences how good of a university they will attend as well, so the pressure starts early. It all comes down to the dreaded college entrance exam day in high school. These scores make or break the future of the student and the level of university they can attend rests on this one exam. The pressure is crushing and South Korea has had problems with teen suicide rates as a result.

Because of their high esteem of their children's educations, South Korea is a nation of highly intelligent people. However, where they excel at math and science, they really lack in creativity or individual thinking. These are not values that seem to be considered important there. Teaching conversational English could get very challenging at times because no one ever seemed to have an opinion about anything. Ask a non-fact based question and you will get blank stares. Here in the US, it almost seems to go the other way; creativity is promoted, everyone has an opinion and individualism is overemphasized (IMO), but there doesn't seem to be enough focus on the effective teaching of core academics.

Interesting thread. Yes, it can be difficult to compare completely different cultures, but differences definitely exist. There are valuable lessons to be learned from what works and what does not in other countries. In every educational system, there is much room for improvement.
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#32 of 59 Old 12-23-2007, 06:58 PM
 
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One difference I see is the emphasis placed on the struggling students. Most of our time and resources go to the special ed, ELL, or below grade level students. We forget about the GT child or the on-grade level child. After being forgotten for awhile the smart kids give up and start screwing around. Now nobody is achieving on the state tests.

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#33 of 59 Old 12-23-2007, 09:37 PM
 
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I could have written USAmma's post almost word for word about South Korea, where I lived and taught English in a private language institute, both children and adults. My husband is from South Korea and was educated completely in South Korean schools and his family lives entirely there.

From my observation, and from what dh has told me, the focus in Korean classrooms is on core academics - math, science, Korean, English, etc. Art and music is taught in schools but not with as much emphasis as here in the US. Private institutes exist for kids to enrich themselves in after school classes in these areas and most kids do attend these daily. Class sizes in Korean public schools are very large - around 60 per class and the subject material is taught largely by rote memorization. The culture is very academically focused. Kids from age 5+ live and breathe education. They attend school during the day and then go directly to their art, music, tae kwon do, English, etc. classes at private academies, which incidentally are very affordable. It is not unusual for middle and high school students to arrive home at night at 10 PM or later just to start again the next morning. School is in session six days per week, approximately 10 months per year. There really isn't any focus at all on kids' play like there is here. Even the one month they get off in the summer and in the winter each are spent attending classes of some sort. In fact, these times of year were the busiest for us as private institute teachers and we often taught several extra classes each day on top of our regular workload. Weekend classes are the norm. Families sacrifice whatever they have to for the sake of their children's education. How well kids do in elementary school determines what level middle and high school they attend and this influences how good of a university they will attend as well, so the pressure starts early. It all comes down to the dreaded college entrance exam day in high school. These scores make or break the future of the student and the level of university they can attend rests on this one exam. The pressure is crushing and South Korea has had problems with teen suicide rates as a result.

Because of their high esteem of their children's educations, South Korea is a nation of highly intelligent people. However, where they excel at math and science, they really lack in creativity or individual thinking. These are not values that seem to be considered important there. Teaching conversational English could get very challenging at times because no one ever seemed to have an opinion about anything. Ask a non-fact based question and you will get blank stares. Here in the US, it almost seems to go the other way; creativity is promoted, everyone has an opinion and individualism is overemphasized (IMO), but there doesn't seem to be enough focus on the effective teaching of core academics.

Interesting thread. Yes, it can be difficult to compare completely different cultures, but differences definitely exist. There are valuable lessons to be learned from what works and what does not in other countries. In every educational system, there is much room for improvement.
Ime, many Indian and Korean families with money will send their children to Amercian (or UK) secondary schools). If you are not among the super-bright, you don't get chances. You do not get to go to college. I don't think those of us in the US understand that many countries do not value 'late bloomers'. Either you meet the specific requirements from the get-go, or you do not.
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#34 of 59 Old 12-25-2007, 12:49 AM
 
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Ime, many Indian and Korean families with money will send their children to Amercian (or UK) secondary schools). If you are not among the super-bright, you don't get chances. You do not get to go to college. I don't think those of us in the US understand that many countries do not value 'late bloomers'. Either you meet the specific requirements from the get-go, or you do not.
While it is true that many Korean families with money try to send their children to American (or Canadian, Australian or New Zealand) schools, it is not because the American education system is particularly envied, but because they want their children to be immersed in the English language in order to become fluent. English is absolutely critical for Koreans because they are working so hard to become a major leader in the global market.

I definitely wouldn't say that if you aren't among the super-bright in South Korea you don't get chances. You may not get into the best schools and have the "who you know" or alumni advantage that comes with going to these schools, but there are unlimited entrepreneurial opportunities in South Korea available for anyone. Many, many of our family and friends there own their own businesses and do quite well, especially considering that some of them went to mechanical (lower) high schools and had no college education. There are many lower colleges that the non super-bright attend and they also can do well, they just have to work harder at it because they won't have the prestige and name-recognition that goes along with attending one of the "best" universities. Besides, no one wants to let their families down after all the years of sacrifice and hard work, so those few spots in the best universities are highly coveted.
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#35 of 59 Old 12-25-2007, 11:52 AM
 
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The kids in "some" other countries aren't always smarter. They may learn certain things at an earlier age than kids in America but that doesn't make them smarter. It just means they got a head start.

The kids who are in Asian and Indian countries who come over and seem so much smarter probably work very, very hard at becoming smart just so they can be given the chance to come to America and go to school I'm sure. I'm sure not all of them are perfectly smart in those countries, but there are those that just work very hard to get educated so they can have more opportunities in another country other than their own.

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#36 of 59 Old 12-25-2007, 11:53 AM
 
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it is not because the American education system is particularly envied, but because they want their children to be immersed in the English language in order to become fluent. English is absolutely critical for Koreans because they are working so hard to become a major leader in the global market.
well yes, but how many of these people do you know who come here and actually go back. I'm sure only a small percentage actually go back to their native country to live the rest of their life after becoming educated here. Many of them stay here and start families and live the rest of their lives. So I see it more as them becoming educated as children and then moving here so they can have a better life one day.

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#37 of 59 Old 12-25-2007, 04:29 PM
 
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The recent conclusions of the OECD's triannual PISA report place Canada in the top five for math, science and reading. The US is somewhere around 25. You can read the executive summary of the report here.

It's an interesting study. Note that the European countries with notoriously "harsher" or more "rigourous" systems do not necessarily produce the best students. France and Germany scored mediocre. Finland, where children only enter grade one at age 7, scored top.

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#38 of 59 Old 12-26-2007, 12:07 AM
 
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I just wanted to point out that children in Asia tend to do better in Math because of the way their language is structured. In most Asian lanuguages you have words for numbers 1-10 and then start counting ten-one, ten-two, ten-three. When you hit twenty it's two-ten, two-ten-one.

English speaking children spend classroom time learning what these children knew when they learned to count. The language is helping them learn math (place value and whatnot)

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#39 of 59 Old 12-26-2007, 12:52 AM
 
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well yes, but how many of these people do you know who come here and actually go back. I'm sure only a small percentage actually go back to their native country to live the rest of their life after becoming educated here. Many of them stay here and start families and live the rest of their lives. So I see it more as them becoming educated as children and then moving here so they can have a better life one day.

Actually, of Koreans I know who have studied English abroad, all have returned to South Korea to live. While part of this may be because it's atrociously difficult for Koreans to emigrate to the US, no one I know who has studied abroad intended to stay in the second country. The "better life" that America provides is subjective. Not too many Koreans that we know personally would jump at the chance to come live here. Heck, we can't even get dh's family to come for a visit: Maybe we just know some unusual Koreans but I digress. The topic is education. Sorry
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#40 of 59 Old 12-26-2007, 12:59 AM
 
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Actually, of Koreans I know who have studied English abroad, all have returned to South Korea to live. While part of this may be because it's atrociously difficult for Koreans to emigrate to the US, no one I know who has studied abroad intended to stay in the second country. The "better life" that America provides is subjective. Not too many Koreans that we know personally would jump at the chance to come live here. Heck, we can't even get dh's family to come for a visit: Maybe we just know some unusual Koreans but I digress. The topic is education. Sorry
Yeah, I know quite a few people from the Middle East that went home. Not everyone likes it here.
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#41 of 59 Old 12-26-2007, 01:48 AM
 
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Yeah, I know quite a few people from the Middle East that went home. Not everyone likes it here.
Right. Generally, I don't think the world's view of the US is really that favorable. In the case of S. Korea, most people are now looking to go to places like New Zealand, Australia, Canada or the UK to study or live. Most Koreans, though, really just want to learn English fluently so they can go back to Korea to get a good job or further the progress of their country. They are fiercely proud of their country and people which is why they work and study so hard to get ahead. The few that do emigrate nowadays do so for lifestyle changes (slower pace of life) and they look to the other countries I mentioned rather than the US.
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#42 of 59 Old 12-26-2007, 01:16 PM
 
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All of the Korean teens I know who attend private secondary boarding schools here (not college-- secondary schools-- high school) already speak perfect English. They are here because the competition for slots in Korean schools are open to only so many, and can be quite the pressure cooker for those not cut out for the pressure cooker. If you aren't testing a certain way right away, you don't get a spot. If your parents don't have money, you are pretty much out of the running, unless you have shown yourself to be intellectualy special (and have excellent test-taking skills) in some way. This has nothing whasoever to do with cultural Korean or Indian pride. These kids go home. Their parents have not emmigrated.
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#43 of 59 Old 12-26-2007, 01:42 PM
 
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well yes, but how many of these people do you know who come here and actually go back. I'm sure only a small percentage actually go back to their native country to live the rest of their life after becoming educated here. Many of them stay here and start families and live the rest of their lives. So I see it more as them becoming educated as children and then moving here so they can have a better life one day.
My first year in college was spent at what is considered to be one of the most diverse schools in the country; it is also well-known for its business/economic depts. I knew of many students from India, the Middle East, countries in Africa, who came here strictly for broadening their families' global opportunities. It was a chance to network, a chance to be immersed in American culture, to hear the "inside" of the American business world for a little while, in order to take that experience home. They came from families with money and they were using their American experience to make more money by expanding their visions and perspectives and by making different connections. For these students, it was a business strategy. Their lives back home were already pretty good. We tend to have a pretty limited, dim view of the rest of the world.
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#44 of 59 Old 12-26-2007, 07:22 PM
 
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All of the Korean teens I know who attend private secondary boarding schools here (not college-- secondary schools-- high school) already speak perfect English. They are here because the competition for slots in Korean schools are open to only so many, and can be quite the pressure cooker for those not cut out for the pressure cooker. If you aren't testing a certain way right away, you don't get a spot. If your parents don't have money, you are pretty much out of the running, unless you have shown yourself to be intellectualy special (and have excellent test-taking skills) in some way. This has nothing whasoever to do with cultural Korean or Indian pride. These kids go home. Their parents have not emmigrated.

Do you mean these kids come for secondary boarding school, stay through college and then go home in order to avoid the pressure cooker of the college entrance exam and getting into a top notch university? If so, that makes sense. There are a lot of Koreans that don't like the pressure of the current education system and may choose to "opt out" like that for their kids if they have the money to do so.

It's also a status thing to be able to send your child abroad for school. It is kind of a Korean pride thing, but it's really hard I think for Americans to understand as it's complex to understand how a particular society ticks unless you've been inside it. I had a student who came here to the US to secondary boarding school and intended to stay through college before returning home. It was for her to become fluent in English and experience living abroad, but since pretty much all Korean women marry and have families and most discontinue working, it really comes down to status.

Koreans can learn to speak English fairly well after many years of private institute instruction with a native speaker (which most do), but it would be a real stretch to say it is perfect English. Speaking English in Korea is really different than speaking English in the US. Immersion in the language works wonders I watched this fascinating journey with my own dh. He was a good English speaker before coming here, yet he struggled hard the first few years in the US. Eleven years later he's improved immensely and is fluent but definitely not perfect. It makes for lots of funny stories
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#45 of 59 Old 12-26-2007, 08:20 PM
 
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One difference I see is the emphasis placed on the struggling students. Most of our time and resources go to the special ed, ELL, or below grade level students. We forget about the GT child or the on-grade level child. After being forgotten for awhile the smart kids give up and start screwing around. Now nobody is achieving on the state tests.

As a teacher this is EXACTLY what I see going on today. The high school I teach at bends over backwards to help ESL and learning disabled kids to the point they have cut almost all honors classes and have done away with the AP courses. I would say the school spends 25-30% of it's resources on 2-5% of the students, all in the name of test scores.
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One difference between our educational culture and those in other countries (I've read) is that we put a lot of stock in innate abilities (in math, music, whatever) and inborn talent, whereas other cultures foster the idea that you can excel in any of these areas with hard work. And hard work they do. And the research has shown that the latter educational culture produces people who love to learn.

Just a thought. . . .
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#47 of 59 Old 12-29-2007, 05:29 PM
 
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http://www.tap2015.org/news/EdWeek12.10.07.pdf

This one is an interesting paper.

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#48 of 59 Old 12-29-2007, 05:40 PM
 
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Yeah, I know quite a few people from the Middle East that went home. Not everyone likes it here.
Hmmm... my dh is from the Middle East. ALL of his friends stayed... and over the past 30 years since he came here as an undergrad (has his PhD now and is a professor) his friends have actually had most of their families immigrate. They love it here!

I could say a lot about why I think kids from other countries are smarter, but it would take a book. To sum up MY opinion... kids here are lazy, their parents are lazy, the teachers are lazy, and they ALL think they should get a gold star for showing up. It's called entitlement. In other countries, kids WORK to get a good education and understand that you have to STUDY and do HOMEWORK to get a good education. Here, everyone gets their panties in a bunch if their kids have to lug home a piece of paper. Might be why in the entire school of science at my dh's university there is not one single American professor and why all of my dh's PhD students are here on visas.
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#49 of 59 Old 12-31-2007, 07:24 PM
 
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Whew..just read through this thread. One thing interesting that I found out while living in Germany is that cheating is widespread and overlooked. The teachers ignore it on purpose. I couldn't believe it. Their answer was that there is no way one could learn all that was required. So..maybe that has something to do with the test scores.
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#50 of 59 Old 01-02-2008, 06:17 AM
 
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This thread discusses the 2006 results of the OECD study on education in different countries. Finland came out best, as usual. USA did not do too well. Canada came out in the top 5.

Funny that two countries so close together and with such similar cultures and education systems can have such different results.

http://www.mothering.com/discussions...6#post10162616.

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#51 of 59 Old 01-03-2008, 04:17 PM
 
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http://www.amazon.com/Learning-Gap-S.../dp/0671880764

This is a good book that I read when I was taking a course on Multicultural Education in college. The study really delves into the differences, not only in the schools, but in the homes and society as well.
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#52 of 59 Old 01-03-2008, 04:38 PM
 
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Yeah, I know quite a few people from the Middle East that went home. Not everyone likes it here.
Practically all of the tens of 1000s of Irish-born that were here in the US went home when the Irish economy improved 10 years ago.

The US is no longer such a great place to live.
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#53 of 59 Old 01-03-2008, 08:38 PM
 
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Which countries?

Because I have seen comparisons with countries such as Canada, and western European countries. While I can't speak for other countries, I know that our students are measured on the same achievement scale. I assumed most Europeans countries were similar.
The Western European countries that I am familiar with do not attempt to educate all their children to a postsecondary level. They have a strong vocational system and they channel children who will not do as well into that system.

I attended school in England for a year in high school (not as an exchange student; as part of my dad's job). Anything comparing "high school seniors" starts out with the difficulty that only about 15% of UK students go on to A-levels, which are the equivalent of our Jr and Sr year of high school (with a little early college thrown in). Only about 5% go to University. Numbers are similar for Germany, I believe.

How can you compare those populations? You're comparing a pool of students that includes just about everyone with a pool that has been filtered to exclude the lower-achieving students.

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The Western European countries that I am familiar with do not attempt to educate all their children to a postsecondary level. They have a strong vocational system and they channel children who will not do as well into that system.

I attended school in England for a year in high school (not as an exchange student; as part of my dad's job). Anything comparing "high school seniors" starts out with the difficulty that only about 15% of UK students go on to A-levels, which are the equivalent of our Jr and Sr year of high school (with a little early college thrown in). Only about 5% go to University. Numbers are similar for Germany, I believe.

How can you compare those populations? You're comparing a pool of students that includes just about everyone with a pool that has been filtered to exclude the lower-achieving students.
This is actually one of the arguments used for the declining status of American students over the past several generations. In the past, a small percentage of the population went to high school at all, much less graduated. In the post World War II era, this began to change and greater numbers began to attend throughout high school. The result is falling achievement. With standardized testing beginning to be a criteria for graduation, I predict we will see a back slide with more dropping out of school since they can't pass the mandated testing.
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#55 of 59 Old 01-04-2008, 06:08 AM
 
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The Western European countries that I am familiar with do not attempt to educate all their children to a postsecondary level. They have a strong vocational system and they channel children who will not do as well into that system.

I attended school in England for a year in high school (not as an exchange student; as part of my dad's job). Anything comparing "high school seniors" starts out with the difficulty that only about 15% of UK students go on to A-levels, which are the equivalent of our Jr and Sr year of high school (with a little early college thrown in). Only about 5% go to University. Numbers are similar for Germany, I believe.

How can you compare those populations? You're comparing a pool of students that includes just about everyone with a pool that has been filtered to exclude the lower-achieving students.
The OECD PISA studies test children at at 15 in reading, science and math. At age 15, schooling is still compulsory for everyone. It is only after that that kids do vocational training or pursue the more academic course (A levels in the UK, lycee in France, etc).

The one exception I can think of is Germany, where children are "streamed" earlier, I believe. And it is precisely in Germany where the OECD show the differences between children in their knowledge of math, reading and science is quite stark.

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#56 of 59 Old 01-06-2008, 11:08 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Milky Way View Post
As a teacher this is EXACTLY what I see going on today. The high school I teach at bends over backwards to help ESL and learning disabled kids to the point they have cut almost all honors classes and have done away with the AP courses. I would say the school spends 25-30% of it's resources on 2-5% of the students, all in the name of test scores.
I am also a teacher and you are 100% correct. Average and above average kids are the ones being "left behind" because the mindset is that they will learn in spite of what we do. At our middle schools, all classes of 30+ students are heterogeneous, so in essence, you could have the student with the highest cognitive ability in a class with a student with the lowest cognitive ability. Then throw in ELLs and and you have a typical inclusion classroom. Inevitably, the pacing of the class remains in line with the lowest common denominator. Differentiation only allows for so much--with one teacher in a class of 30+ students, someone is always left with independent study. It's a complete sham.
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#57 of 59 Old 01-07-2008, 01:18 AM
 
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Originally Posted by writermommy View Post
This is actually one of the arguments used for the declining status of American students over the past several generations. In the past, a small percentage of the population went to high school at all, much less graduated. In the post World War II era, this began to change and greater numbers began to attend throughout high school. The result is falling achievement. With standardized testing beginning to be a criteria for graduation, I predict we will see a back slide with more dropping out of school since they can't pass the mandated testing.
And tests are dumbed down and standards lowered so that more students can pass the mandated testing and states can meet their requirements. It is falling expectations as well as falling achievement.
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#58 of 59 Old 01-07-2008, 01:35 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Kelly71 View Post
I am also a teacher and you are 100% correct. Average and above average kids are the ones being "left behind" because the mindset is that they will learn in spite of what we do. At our middle schools, all classes of 30+ students are heterogeneous, so in essence, you could have the student with the highest cognitive ability in a class with a student with the lowest cognitive ability. Then throw in ELLs and and you have a typical inclusion classroom. Inevitably, the pacing of the class remains in line with the lowest common denominator. Differentiation only allows for so much--with one teacher in a class of 30+ students, someone is always left with independent study. It's a complete sham.
I agree. I think it is a real problem. The highest cognitive ability kids in this scenario are often bored, often acting out, and at the very least are not at all achieving at or near their potential. Our nation's intellectual resources are being squandered in the name of equal opportunity. And somehow it is taboo to even suggest giving extra resources to the "above average" kids, while it is universally applauded to give generous extra resources to the "under-performing" sector. I am not suggesting that low-performing students or special needs students shouldn't get generous extra resources, but if we want to be competitive in an international environment and global economy, we better allocate funding and attention to the high-performing sector as well.
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#59 of 59 Old 01-08-2008, 12:30 PM
 
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A number of posters have kept on saying "how similar" the US is to Canada. But the truth is, we're not. Canada's minority distribution is very different than the US -- there is not the black and hispanic population there as in the States. Canadians of Asian (including SE Asian) heritage make up more than 50% of the "visible minority" population of Canada.

Do black and hispanic Canadians have the same sort of standardized testing gap that has been shown over long years in the States? If not, that would be extremely interesting -- whether the gap never existed, or if it did, how Canada has managed to close it.
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