Saturday, October 29, 2005

A Nation at Risk

In April 1983 the National Commission on Excellence in Education Published A Nation at Risk
. It has been 22 years since this piece was published and about 18 years of teachers who were educated in this system now teaching our children. Some of the indicators of risk included the following.

1. International comparisons of student achievement, completed a decade ago, reveal that on 19 academic tests American students were never first or second and, in comparison with other industrialized nations, were last seven times.

2. Some 23 million American adults are functionally illiterate by the simplest tests of everyday reading, writing, and comprehension.

3. About 13 percent of all 17-year-olds in the United States can be considered functionally illiterate. Functional illiteracy among minority youth may run as high as 40 percent.

4. Average achievement of high school students on most standardized tests is now lower than 26 years ago when Sputnik was launched.

5. Over half the population of gifted students do not match their tested ability with comparable achievement in school.

6. The College Board's Scholastic Aptitude Tests (SAT) demonstrate a virtually unbroken decline from 1963 to 1980. Average verbal scores fell over 50 points and average mathematics scores dropped nearly 40 points.

7. College Board achievement tests also reveal consistent declines in recent years in such subjects as physics and English.

8. Both the number and proportion of students demonstrating superior achievement on the SATs (i.e., those with scores of 650 or higher) have also dramatically declined.

9. Many 17-year-olds do not possess the "higher order" intellectual skills we should expect of them. Nearly 40 percent cannot draw inferences from written material; only one-fifth can write a persuasive essay; and only one-third can solve a mathematics problem requiring several steps.

10. There was a steady decline in science achievement scores of U.S. 17-year-olds as measured by national assessments of science in 1969, 1973, and 1977.

11. Between 1975 and 1980, remedial mathematics courses in public 4-year colleges increased by 72 percent and now constitute one-quarter of all mathematics courses taught in those institutions.

12. Average tested achievement of students graduating from college is also lower.

13. Business and military leaders complain that they are required to spend millions of dollars on costly remedial education and training programs in such basic skills as reading, writing, spelling, and computation. The Department of the Navy, for example, reported to the Commission that one-quarter of its recent recruits cannot read at the ninth grade level, the minimum needed simply to understand written safety instructions. Without remedial work they cannot even begin, much less complete, the sophisticated training essential in much of the modern military.

This must be a concern of all parents and all citizens for the full report go to A Nation at Risk
. The undereducation of American children effects all citizens because those who are not properly educated as children are either robbed of a more prosperous future or become burdens on society which we must support through welfare or the penial system. The problem is not the amount spent on education but the quality of education. You may think that your child is in a good school but that does not go far enough we need to make sure all children are educated properly and with that we need true education reform.

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