Thursday, August 25, 2011

Changing Education: A Continued Musing

I'd like to add to the list of suggestions to change education that I posted here.

First, emulate the National Football League.  Every team in the NFL has a goal: win the Super Bowl.  The successful teams are also able to enunciate clearly a "system"  that they will use to achieve the goal.  The NFL has a "West Coast offense" or "use the running game to set up the passing game," :Tampa 2," or "pressure defense" philosophies that may be intricate but communicated clearly and concisely.  I don't know if any schools clearly communicate their method.  Further, most seem to follow any idea that's in vogue even if it doesn't fit with what they have been doing.

Second, (I realize this point may partially contradict the previous one) teachers should eliminate the use of jargon.  Education jargon for whatever reason is wimpy.

Finally, this problem needs to get fixed.  Daniel Luzer reports,
Many critics argue that American college students seem to earn grades that are too high, or too high at least for the actual effort they’re putting in. In 1991 the average college GPA was 2.93. In 2006 the average college GPA was 3.11.
Well, guess which students earn the highest grades? It’s future teachers. According to a new study by Cory Koedel published by the American Enterprise Institute:
Students who take education classes at universities receive significantly higher grades than students who take classes in every other academic discipline. The higher grades cannot be explained by observable differences in student quality between education majors and other students, nor can they be explained by the fact that education classes are typically smaller than classes in other academic departments

This is despite the fact that education majors have the lowest high school grades and standardized test scores of all college students.
Now obviously there’s nothing we can do about this from a policy perspective. Grades are awarded by professors. If they think their students all deserve As and Bs (the average classroom-level grade GPA in American education departments is 3.8), well, that’s their prerogative.
But this is an important thing to keep in mind when discussing standards-based reform and rewarding and punishing teachers based on student achievement. Tough grading might be sort of a novel concept for many teachers.

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