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Do Schools Challenge Our Students?

Do Schools Challenge Our Students?

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Ulrich Boser Lindsay Rosenthal explain why we need to find new and better ways to provide students with the knowledge and skills that they need to succeed.
Ulrich Boser Lindsay Rosenthal explain why we need to find new and better ways to provide students with the knowledge and skills that they need to succeed.

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: Center for American Progress on Jul 05, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Do Schools Challenge Our Students?
What Student Surveys Tell Us Aboutthe State of Education in the United States
Ulrich Boser and Lindsay Rosenthal July 10, 2012
 s  s  o c i    d   s  s  /   s   s  oi   
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Introduction and summary
 You migh hink ha he naions eenagers are drowning in schoolwork. Imageso sullen sudens buried in exbooks oen grace he covers o popular paren-ing magazines, while well-heeled suburban eenagers oen complain hey have o work he hours o a corporae lawyer in order o nish heir school projecs andhomework assignmens. Bu when we recenly examined a ederal survey o su-dens in elemenary and high schools around he counry, we ound he opposie:Many sudens are no being challenged in school.Consider, or insance, ha 37 percen o ourh- graders say ha heir mah work is oo easy. More han a hird o high-school seniors repor ha hey hardly ever wrie abou wha hey read in class. In a compeiive global economy where hemasery o science is increasingly crucial, 72 percen o eighh-grade sciencesudens say he aren’ being augh engineering and echnology, according o ouranalysis o a ederal daabase.Tese ndings come a a key ime. Researchers increasingly believe ha sudensurveys can provide imporan insighs ino a eacher’s eeciveness. When he Bill& Melinda Gaes Foundaion released ndings rom heir Measures o Eeciveeaching (ME) Projec in 2011, hey ound ha suden eedback was a ar beterpredicor o a eacher’s perormance han more radiional indicaors o success suchas wheher a eacher had a maser’s degree or no. Te mouning evidence on heimporance o suden surveys has also been shaping policy a he sae and locallevel, and a variey o groups dedicaed o he improvemen o eaching—such ashe New eacher Projec, a nonpro ha works o advance policies and praciceso ensure eecive eaching in every classroom—have been incorporaing sudensurveys ino heir eacher evaluaion and cericaion process.
Given he signicance o his growing body o research on suden surveys, weexamined one o he riches sources o naional suden survey daa and con-duced an analysis o he background surveys o he Naional Assessmen o Educaional Progress.
Known as he Naion’s Repor Card, hese assessmens are
2center fr amern prgre | d shl chllenge our stuent?
adminisered every wo years by he Naional Cener or Educaion Saisics. Welooked specically a he suden quesionnaire, which collecs suden-reporedinormaion on demographics and classroom experiences.In reviewing he daa, we examined a number o issues ha rack curren debaesover educaion policy and research. Given he recen debaes over academic san-dards, or insance, we looked closely a issues o rigor and suden expecaions. Dosudens hink ha hey are being challenged enough? Do eachers engage sudensin deep learning opporuniies? We were also ineresed in issues o access since su-dens provide an imporan, classroom-eye view o he resources ha are available ohem. Are all sudens being given access o he ypes o learning opporuniies hahey need o be prepared or college and he modern workplace? Are hose resourcesdisribued airly among dieren ypes o sudens and schools? Among our ndings:
Many schools are not challenging students and large percentages of studentsreport that their school work is “too easy.”
I sudens are going o succeed inhe compeiive global economy, hey need o be exposed o a rigorous curricu-lum. Bu many sudens believe heir class work is oo easy. weny-nine perceno eighh-grade mah sudens naionwide, or insance, repor ha heir mah work is oen or always oo easy.
In some saes like Virginia, nearly a hird o middle-school sudens repored heir work was oen or always oo easy.Tis nding was consisen across grades and subjec mater. We ound ha 51percen o eighh-grade civics sudens and 57 percen o eighh-grade hisory sudens repor ha heir work is oen or always oo easy. Elemenary schoolsudens also revealed ha hey aren’ being challenged by heir mah work—37percen o ourh-grade sudens repored ha heir mah work is oen or alwaysoo easy. Among high school sudens, 21 percen o 12
graders said heir mah work was oen or always oo easy, while 56 percen and 55 percen respecively ound heir civics and hisory work oen or always oo easy.
Many students are not engaged in rigorous learning activities.
 Almos a hirdo eighh-grade sudens repor reading ewer han ve pages a day eiher in schoolor or homework. Ta’s below wha many expers recommend or sudens inmiddle school.
Eighh-grade sudens across he counry also repor ha hey rarely wrie lenghy answers o reading quesions on ess: approximaely one-hirdo sudens wrie long answers on reading ess wice per year or less.

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