These standards set forth clear expectations for school districts, schools, teachers, and students for the core subjects of reading, science and math. Each state's standards and testing are different, but all have the same goal of providing consistent, quality education, as defined by the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). Beginning in 2014, students must not only be determined to be 'proficient' in these three core subjects, but schools must make Adequate Yearly Progress overall and for specific demographic subgroups (Murnane & Pappay, 2010).
Although there are benefits to the NCLB, including the accountability measures that have been established that have set clearer expectations, there are also drawbacks to these standards as well. There has been an increasing concern regarding the inordinate amount of time that teachers must spend preparing students for the standardized tests. Although this prep may improve students scores on these tests, teachers have reported that there is often "no improvement in their underlying proficiency. (in fact,...) according to a national survey, 40% of all teachers 'reported that they had found ways to raise state test scores without really improving learning'" (Murnane & Pappay, 2010, p. 156). This "teaching to the test" is a significant concern.
Improving the curriculum standards and standardized testing requirements to ensure that not only do students test well, but also actually learn the skills needed to do well in the future in these subjects. In addition, although math, language arts and science are critical educational areas, schools need to make certain that students are receiving well-rounded educations. In this way, American students won't simply perform well during that one instance of testing, but will have the knowledge needed to build future educational skills.
Today's classroom is significantly different from just a generation ago. Today's classroom is technology driven, where teachers are required to not only have skills in instruction, but also be technically skilled as well. Technologically-enhanced classrooms not only use computers and Smart Boards to facilitate learning, but they also integrate emerging technological trends, including blogs and social media, like Facebook, to help teachers interact with their peers. In this way, teachers can enhance their existing competences (Murugaiah, Azman, Ya'acob, & Siew, 2010).
Technology in today's classroom offers many benefits to both students and teachers; however, there are challenges with implementing technologies as well. For schools, increased technology usage means higher costs, for equipment, teacher training and for Information Technology staff to support the new technologies. In addition, the focus on the core lessons can be lost to the technological tools being used. It can be difficult for students too to have to learn new technologies in addition to the educational skills being taught. Lastly, if technologies are not dispersed evenly across schools it can further widen the education gap between these schools, giving some students a higher quality education than others.
For this reason, technology in today's classroom must be available for all schools, which is going to result in funding issues that must be addressed. These tools must be effective, though, for students and teachers to use. As an example, Smart Boards should only be used in place of chalkboards when there is a significant advantage to their use, not simply because it's new and exciting technology. These technologies must also be user-friendly, with ample time given for instruction in their use, that must not take away from curriculum instruction. In this way, technologies are used effectively, efficiently and fairly for all students.
There are many facets of education that affect schools, teachers and society. Some of these include: different ways of learning, exceptional and gifted and talented learners, student diversity, financing and governing American schools, student life in school and at home, curriculum standards and testing, and today's classroom. To better understand these different issues, a brief description was presented. This was followed by a discussion of why these facets pose an educational concern. Lastly, implications for improving these facets of the educational system, were presented. In the end, it is clear that although education has made great leaps and bounds over the last decades, there is still much work that can be done in a variety of educational areas.
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Murugaiah, P., Azman, H, Ya'acob, a. & Siew, M. (2010). "Blogging in teacher professional development: Its role in building computer-assisted language teaching skills." International Journal of Education & Development Using Information & Communication Technology, 6(3). p. 73-87.…