The media portrayal of the average American student is grim — that of an overworked teen burning the candle at both ends to keep up with her studies. But does that match with reality? A new analysis of federal data has found that students in American schools don't feel challenged enough.
The analysis, which was compiled by the Washington, D.C., think tank Center for American Progress, is based on surveys given to students by the Department of Education for its National Assessment of Educational Progress. Here are some of the highlights (or low points) of their findings:
- 37 percent of fourth-graders say their math work is too easy.
- More than a third of high school seniors report that they hardly ever write about what they read in class.
- 72 percent of eighth-grade science students say they aren’t being taught engineering and technology.
- Almost a third of eighth-grade students report reading fewer than five pages a day at school or for homework.
How is it possible that in an educational system in which the majority of schools across the country are "failing" due to students' poor scores on standardized tests, the majority of students feel they are not being challenged?
Could it be because students no longer go to school to learn about history, math and English? And teachers no longer teach students about these subjects. Rather, students go to school to learn how to take tests. And teachers have little time to do anything other than teach them how to do it. Specifically, students are primed to take one very important test each year that assess whether or not they are capable of regurgitating answers from a book.
There is no time for creative thought. There is no time for subject matter that will not be on the test. And there is certainly no time for debate, innovation or new ideas.