This idea of a structural change is further girded in the article by Hiebert & Morris (2012), which agues in favor of altering the fundamental strategy of instruction. To the authors, the focus on improving the characteristics of educators rather than the educational resources and parameters given to these educators if wrongheaded and problematic. Hiebert & Morris "expose the assumptions on which this logic is built, propose an alternative approach to improving teaching that engages teachers (and researchers) directly in the work of improving teaching, present some indirect evidence to support this approach, and examine the cultural traditions and beliefs that have kept the conventional approach in place for so long." (p. 92)
The article by Hiebert & Morris challenges the idea that teacher qualifications are the flaw in the present educational system. The opportunities for improvement lay, instead, in bringing about greater intuition and flexibility in curricular design, learning materials and even the overarching structure of the traditional public school.
The opposition to the proposed strategies for philosophical and structural reconsideration of our educational system is largely formed by members of the federal and state governments. The rigid standardized testing and accountability strategies that have marked the last decade of educational policy are, in many ways, responsible for the deplorable state of American education. However, the opposition argues that a further reinforcement of this approach is the best way forward. According to Coffey & Alberts (2013), "an organization established by the 50 U.S. state governors to improve academic standards and testing will begin finalizing its draft document (released in January 2013) of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). This document aims to establish new common standards for science education for students aged 5 to 18 in the United States, and it explicitly builds on the U.S. National Academies' 2011 Framework for K-12 Science Education." (Coffey & Alberts, p. 489)
The strength of this strategy is that it offers greater opportunities for student participation and hands-on learning in science classrooms. However, beyond this stated strategy, the approach is weakened by its reliance on the standardized testing ideology that has done little to improve student performance in recent years.
Coffey, J. & Alberts, B. (2013). Improving Education Standards. Science, 339(6119), p. 489.
The article by Coffey & Alberts reports on standards devised by the assembled governors of the 50 states in order to strengthen the use of standardized testing in evaluating students. The standards reported on here relate to the field of science. The article contributes to the position of the opposition in the above research discussion.
Hiebert, J. & Morris, A.K. (2012). Teaching, Rather Than Teachers, As a Path Toward Improving Classroom Instruction. Journal of Teacher Education, 63(2), 92-102.
The article by Hiebert & Morris argues that the strategy for improving education by improving teachers has been fundamentally flawed. Instead, the authors take the approach that teaching methods and strategies must be addressed first and foremost. This reinforces the idea in the present research that the best way to improve American education is to address the strategic approach taken to promoting learning.
Hurtado, S.; Milem, J.; Clayton-Pederson, A. & Allen, W. (1999). Enacting Diverse Learning Environments: Improving the Climate for Racial/Ethnic Diversity in Higher Education. ERIC Digest.
The article by Hurtado et al. concerns the issue of diversity in our schools, and particularly in the context of higher education. The article offers a discussion on the need to improve the respect for and embrace of diversity in the content and educational strategy of our classrooms. The text contributes the idea to our discussion that one of the major shortcomings of America's educational system is its critical underservice to minority groups or non-white populations.
Mehta, J. (2013). Why American Education Fails. Foreign Affairs.
The article by Mehta provides further reinforcement to the idea that America's educational system lags behind that of many other nations. It also attributes part of this to a failure to accommodate America's increasing ethnic diversity.
Moore, L. (2013). Finland has an education system the U.S. should envy -- and learn from. The Guardian.
The article by Moore provides useful background to the present research, particularly in establishing a case for the need for improvement in America's education system. In particular, it compares…