belief by cuiliqing



PART ONE: Walk your Conviction.                                                   [10 minutes]

  What do you think? Do you agree with this statement?                     YES       NO

  Please list the reasons why you agree or disagree with this statement:
PART TWO: Use the following information to help consider the opinion you stated earlier. [20 mins]

A little background information
  A little less than twenty years ago, the National Commission on Excellence in Education was
  commissioned by the secretary of Education, T.H. Bell, "to examine the quality of education in the
  United States" because of "the widespread public perception that something is seriously remiss in our
  educational system" (Bell in NCEE, 1983). Among the opening statements of the final report were the

       …We report to the American people that while we can take justifiable pride in what our schools
       and colleges have historically accomplished and contributed to the United States and the well-
       being of its people, the educational foundations of our society are presently being eroded by a
       rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very future as a Nation and a people…

       … If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational
       performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war. As it stands, we
       have allowed this to happen to ourselves. We have even squandered the gains in student
       achievement made in the wake of the Sputnik challenge. Moreover, we have dismantled essential
       support systems which helped make those gains possible. We have, in effect, been committing an
       act of unthinking, unilateral educational disarmament. (NCEE, 1983)

Considerable Debate
 This report sparked considerable debate about whether or not schools are the source of the problems
 that the Commission observed. In addition there was not only considerable debate about where reform
 should happen, but also what form it should take.

 Below are some of the arguments and findings that help to fuel each side of the debate:

    American 12th graders scored near the bottom on         % of US 16 to 24yr olds who were high school
     the recent 3rd International Math & Science Study.       drop outs decreased from 1972 to 1999 for white
     US students placed 19th out of 21 developed              and black young adults.2
     nations in math and 16th out 21 in science.1
                                                             U.S. students' expectations for obtaining post-
    Since 1983, more than 10 million Americans have          secondary credentials have increased substantially
     reached the 12th grade without having learned to         since 1983. 2
     read at a basic level. 1
                                                             College enrollment rates for high school
    More than 20 million have reached their senior           completers have risen for white and black
     year unable to do basic math. 1                          students. 2

    Almost 25 million have reached 12th grade not           Between 1971 and 1999, 9- and 13-year olds
     knowing the essentials of U.S. history. 1                improved their performance in reading. 2

    More than 6 million Americans dropped out of            The score gap between black and white students
     high school. 1                                           narrowed between the early 1970s and the late
                                                              1980s. 2
    In 1996 135 of all blacks aged 16 to 24 were not
     in school and did not hold a diploma. 17% of            Between 1973 and 1999, 9-, 13- and 17-year olds
    first generation Hispanics had dropped out of high          all improved their performance in mathematics. 2
    school, including 44% of Hispanic immigrants in
    this age group. 1                                          The trends in science performance, though
                                                                declining in the 1970s, increase during the 1980s
   Despite continued increase in the attainment rates          and early 1990s. Performance has been mostly
    of U.S. 25-29 year olds across all race/ethnic              stable since then. 2
    groups and all educational levels, gaps between
    the whites versus blacks and Hispanics persisted           % of high school graduates who completed
    between 1971 and 2000.2                                     advanced academic levels of English and foreign
                                                                language study doubled between 1982 and 1998 to
   With more students taking more courses and                  about 30% in each subject. 2
    staying in school longer, it is puzzling that student
    achievement has remained largely flat. 1                   % of high school graduates who completed
                                                                advanced levels of mathematics increased from 26
   Quality of the mathematical content of 8th grade            to 41 percent between 1982 and 1999. 2
    mathematics lessons was rated lower than that in
    Germany and Japan. 2                                       % of high school graduates who completed
                                                                advanced levels of physical science rose from 31
   U.S. 8th grade students are less likely to be taught        to 60 percent. 2
    by a teacher whose field of study was
    mathematics or physics than their international            There are more than 6 million children in special
    peers. 1                                                    education -- most will never read well but they're
                                                                getting their chance based on whatever gifts they
   Internationally, U.S. youngsters hold their own at          bring to school.3
    the elementary level but falter in the middle years
    and drop far behind in high school. America                Nearly half the three million teachers in public
    seems to be the only country in the world whose             schools have master's degrees. The political
    children fall farther behind the longer they stay in        climate is so hateful toward public schools, a third
    school. 1                                                   quit within 10 years. 3

   Some 30 percent of entering freshmen in need of            Americas 4th grade readers just out performed
    some remedial courses in reading, writing,                  every country in the world except Finland,
    mathematics after arriving on campus. 1                     according to the National Assessment of
                                                                Educational Progress. 3
   Employers report difficulty finding people to hire
    who have the skills, knowledge habits and                  America is second only to Japan in the college
    attitudes they require for technologically                  graduation rate. America exceeds every country in
    sophisticated positions. 1                                  the world in graduate level completion. 3

   Few people have enough power to shape the                  The SAT score on reasoning just hit a 25 year
    decisions that affect their lives and the lives of          high. Three out of four test takers this year scored
    their children. 1                                           higher than the national average. The ACT is at a
                                                                five year high. 3
   Power over the education system has been
    increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few            A new Public Agenda poll reveals a 71 percent
    who don't really want things to change, not                 approval rating of public schools. 3
    substantially, not in ways that would really
    matter.1                                                   According to the U.S. Department of Education,
                                                                46 million students attend 87,125 schools in
                                                                14,471 districts. Of that total, nearly 6 million
                                                                have disabilities… …two million are abused and
                                                                neglected… …more than half a million are
                                                                homeless… …one in five children under 18 comes
                                                                from abject poverty. 3
PART THREE: Clarify your position.                                                          [10 minutes]

     How much has your position changed as a result of considering the above information? (circle your
      answer on the scale below)

                  2------------- 1---------------- 0 -------------- 1 ---------------2
        disagree more                               no change                              agree more
                                                  in my opinion

     Identify one or two of the statements above that help to support your conviction. Explain why they
      are convincing.

     Identify one or two of the statements above that challenge your conviction. Explain why they
      are/are not convincing.

National Commission on Excellence in Education (1983) A Nation at Risk. Retrieved October 11, 2002, from
1 Bennett, W.J. et al. (July/August 1998). "A nation still at risk." Policy Review. 90, 2-9.
    National Center for Education Statistics (2001). The Condition of Education 2001. Washington D.C.: U.S.
         Government Printing Office.
    Troy, F.J. (1998). "The myth of our failed education system." The School Administrator. 55 (8), pp. 6-10.

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