Published on September 6th, 2012 | by Admin | Views: 1894290
Changes in social habits caused by advancing technology, dissatisfaction with school performances and recent research into educational achievements is causing a storm leading to calls for a sea change in the education systems around the world. Teachers have borne the brunt of criticism from parents, politicians and education ministers for a long time. Empowered by the ability to comment on articles written online, teachers are hitting back by sharing their thoughts with each other and the general public. The result is a serious challenge to the way education is organised today; the change is picking up momentum, beginning with Britain and America, it threatens to affect schools and educational institutions around the world.
In most countries, governments control and fund the majority of schools. They decide what subjects are to be taught and to what level of detail. Governments set examinations to assess both the achievement of students as well as the achievements of teachers and the school’s organisation of educational activities as a whole (an assessment of the head teachers and their deputies). New studies conducted by The Royal Economic Society in Britain; The Hewlett & Gates Foundations; a review of studies in education conducted for an Education Summit in Washington D.C. and other education studies such as Knapp & Woolverton have found serious problems with the traditional school administration.
Apart from the ongoing battle between teachers and governments regarding teachers’ pay, workload, powers of disciplining students and the desirability of national curriculums, there is a serious challenge to the validity of tests like ACT and SAT in measuring the achievement of teachers and schools. The research actually shows that social class, family income, ethnicity and parental involvement, support and expectations of their children’s achievements are more important and consistently have a higher correlation to ACT and SAT scores. The Royal Economic Society study suggests that teachers efforts only contribute 10% to students achievements. The meta-study for the Washington Education Summit 2006 suggests that once the effects of family income are stripped away from the ACT and SAT scores of school and college children, then these statistics are worthless in indicating differences in school achievements.
So what does this mean? For a start, it is welcome news for teachers, who complain of being overworked, underpaid, hands tied behind their back and abused by parents and governments (not to mention some unhappy students!). It means to stop basing teachers ‘performance related pay’ on SAT scores, to allow teachers more freedom on what they teach, perhaps scrapping National Curriculums, which are politically loaded, and making teaching more student centred. In addition the research indicates benefits to be gained by providing free parenting courses and access to online content and subsidised extra tutoring for children entitled to free meals.
The growth of tutoring organisations, online and classroom based, boycotting of SAT exams by teachers and the growth of education institutions like Free Schools, Academies and Faith Schools is in line with these research findings. When the National Curriculum is not fitting with the interests of the student nor fulfilling their complete needs, people are enrolling on self chosen courses such as to learn Arabic online, joining martial arts classes or to learn Quran online, at mosques and at madrasas.
The most significant change that can help students of poorer families achieve better results is to ensure they have enough to eat and a healthy diet; provide them a place to study free from stress and violence; enable parents to understand English; take an interest in and have high expectations of their children’s education. This is no easy task as every family is different and the issues are complicated. We can start by creating awareness and support groups. Providing free information online would also be helpful.
Knapp and Woolverton have reviewed many research findings about education and they conclude the following eight facts about social class and how it affects education:
1. Social class, prestige and socio-economic ranks impact schooling.
2. Social class is related to the concept of “meritocracy.”
3. There is a universal correlation between social class and educational outcomes.
4. The correlations between social class and educational attainment tend to hold over time and across cultures, worldwide.
5. Social class is fluid, not fixed, with education being a strong determinant.
6. Social class and ethnicity tend to be explicit bases for tracking.
7. The economic and social aspects of class affect a student’s ability to learn.
8. Poverty plays a detrimental role in student achievement.
Much of this has been known for many years, yet little change has been seen in the GCSE results or SAT scores of many ethnic minority children in the last twenty years. In the UK, Jamaican, Bangladeshi and Pakistani children consistently achieve the lowest GCSE results, while in the US Native Americans, African Americans and Hispanics also consistently achieve the lowest SAT scores. Some researchers have suggested that a little bit of institutional racism still exists in the education system. Our hope is that with the advent of social networking and video sharing websites, able people within ethnic minorities can come together to provide information and support to enable parents of students who are underachieving whether because they are from low income families or from ethnic minorities.
Mohammed Mominur Rahman
If Allah makes you stand up you will never fall, and if he lets you fall and leaves you to yourself, you will always fall.
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