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What is education reform and how has it transformed over the last three decades?

I’m doing an essay on public education and its history in the United States, with regards to aspects like funding, common core and teaching methodologies. I’d like to understand the impact of education reform. What is education reform and is it a one-time initiative? What does standards based education reform imply and how have different administrations understood how to reform education? What famous proponents have been against education reform? How does the education system in the U.S look like in comparison with other education systems around the world?

Curtis Rhodes

in Education News

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Heather Maxwell on March 8, 2018

Education reform implies a vast number of measures that have been put in place to ensure academic, learning and teaching standards. These standards have varied with different administrations and are always contentious within both state and country. Most folks asking what education reform is tend to limit themselves to the last three decades of successive US administrations. However, the journey starts from the ages of Plato, Rousseau, and Horace Mann in Massachusetts to John Dewey and more modern American era.  The modern version of education reform focuses mostly on the common core and compulsory education. The Common Core basically outlines what students should know through all 12 grades and what standards have been set. Thus, enters Education Reform based on standards, where curriculum, teaching and professional development are set at certain levels to be achieved by either a teacher or a learner.

There is always a big misunderstanding between education and learning. Common Core sets standards of education and strives to meet standards for every learner or at least the majority of them, with great test scores in Math and English. Standardized testing is also at the heart of modern-day education.

The motivations of different administrations ranging from the Civil Rights Movement, the Reagan and the Bush era to the Obama era have placed shifting emphasis on different elements of the education system.  For example, the No Child Left Behind Act sought to improve the performance of minority student groups under the same parameters that other students are exposed to.  

Before answering how we can reform education, you have to consider what ails the system in the first place. For example, the US is tied with Switzerland for first in annual spending per child in K12, at over 11,000$ annually. But the outcomes of two systems vary greatly in quality and performance in Math and Sciences. Why the discrepancy? In standards-based reforms do the high standards set for kids and the rigorous testing measures work? Does the accountability system for educators work?

What arguments have been brought against education reforms?  Some have proposed that the current system is unrealistically set against students who aren’t academically talented. Others, especially those who are against the NCLB Act, say that concentrating too much on Math and English diminish other talents.

Jordan Sotoa year ago

If you’re looking for an answer to “what is education reform”, firstly understand the subject from a historical perspective, and then contextualize it in modern times. Education in the Hellenistic era had a very different approach and goals as opposed to the standards-based era that we live in today. Therefore, you should start with education in different phases of history and ultimately what led to the current system and what ails this system. Education Reform in the United States has a rich history, starting with gender gaps to gaps between needy and endowed students. These varying interests in education have led to the creation of parallel systems such as charter schools, boarding schools, Montessori schools and merit-based schools among other systems that cater to all these various interests. In a big country like the US, there is a wide range of interests to be taken care of.


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