America’s school system is lagging behind those of other countries—it’s ranked 17th in high school graduation rates. Students in Latvia, Chile and Brazil are making gains in academics three times faster than American students. How can we explain that 93 percent of Finns graduate from academic or vocational high schools, compared to 70.5 percent of Americans when Finland spends 30 percent less per student than the United States?
Granting teaching tenure may be part of the problem. Of the 7.2 million public school teachers in the United States, 2.3 million are tenured. Rewarded teachers who have provided years of service is noble in theory, but has it worked out in practice? Most Americans seem to think it means these teachers will simply go through the motions. Job security may well promote laziness. Paying teachers more, as opposed to granting them tenure, may be the way to go to incentivize performance.
The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) may also be a cause of America’s academic woes. The act helped expand the standards and accountability movement in an attempt to ensure that all students are proficient in math and reading by 2014. This has actually placed pressure on teachers and principals into cheating to inflate school scores. Finland is the top developed country in the world for education, and it does not require any standardized testing for high school graduation. Perhaps we can learn from them?
What do you think the government should (or shouldn’t) do as far as the nation’s school system is concerned? Please share your thoughts and check out the infographic below.