Education in the past 100 years has progressed and greatly improved. Students are required to go to school, discrimination has largely been eliminated, and the tools have changed with the times.
For this essay, the important changes will be reflected in the institutional responses to recent societal changes. The purpose of this paper is to examine three important changes in the past two decades. The focus will be on the technological advances and their use in classrooms, accountability of educators and administrators, and lastly standardized testing. All three topics have both positive and negative components and like teaching, will need to change to stay current with the future of education. The pupils of today have greatly evolved how they think and understand information from their predecessors.
Our students of today are “Digital Natives” meaning that they are living through an age where there isn’t a time without the use of technology during their lifetime. They are fluent in the use of computers, phones, iPads; the connectivity of the online world is a large focus of their lives. Technology helps to provide an effective way of learning for them. It’s helping to begin a more personalized learning style for each pupil. Those who are struggling with a lesson can be given additional tools to help understand a concept or lesson; students excelling can be given challenging work to do while teachers help those who learn at a slower pace. When used in conjunction with a lesson plan, it can be an effective learning tool (Pros and Cons: Debating the Usage of Digital Devices in the Classroom, 2018).
This affects the educators in a positive way by maximizing student engagement, using a teacher’s time wisely, fueling curiosity in students by providing instant answers, and can become a social learning when teachers use programs like google classroom. With the positives of use of laptops or ipads in classrooms; there are also downsides, it can be a distraction instead of a vital tool. Students will always find ways around the monitored networks or try to play games online instead doing work if teachers are not vigilant. There could be an increase in cyberbullying when technology is used inappropriately. Devices can make for greater connection; however, students are spending less time interacting and socializing with others outside of the network (Pros and Cons: Debating the Usage of Digital Devices in the Classroom, 2018).
It could also widen the gap between for schools with lower funding for their students. Reform for these cons should focus on long term effects of using devices in the classroom, looking at tests scores and psychological effects could help teachers be conscious of if technology is a nuisance or vital tool for lesson plans. Another reform would be standardizing laptops or iPads as a staple for classrooms federally rather than holding each state accountable for these tools.
A higher expectation of accountability for educators and institutional administrations creates a competitive nature for schools, of what their education can offer prospective students. The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) began under George W. Bush and can be viewed as one of the first reforms that began holding educator accountable for the outcome of their students testing. This focused on nationally creating equal opportunity and fairness for disadvantaged students. The action of accountability hoped to motivate low performing schools in a positive effect (Lombardo, 2015). Race to the Top (RTT) is another recent reform created during the Obama administration awarding states grants who showed improvement in test scores and schools who fell behind were turned over to charter schools or private management (Race to the Top Fund, 2016).
Both reforms had a lot of issues from the nascency. NCLB had unrealistic goals of complete proficiency for the reading and math tests. The tests were a “one size fits all,” without any specialized testing for disadvantaged students, and no incentives past meeting the minimal skills mandated. RTT narrowed the NCLB limiting time for the arts, “teachers will teach to the test,” with students only focusing on regurgitating information relevant to testing and lose opportunities for critical thinking (Ravitch, 2011). In lieu of the NCLB, Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to ensure the best opportunities for each student (NNPA ESSA MEDIA CAMPAIGN, n.d.
). The effects of this act began the academic year 2016-2017. Reform needed for the accountability of teachers needs to focus less on testing outcomes of their pupils and more on the effects of poverty, inequality, and early education. By changing the focus to these key factors, educators will be affected in a positive light. Less testing would correlate to more time for fine arts and physical education.
Improve teacher morale and satisfaction. The final important change in education is standardized testing. In the 1960s, in response to the cold war and globalizing economy, the government began focusing on institutions producing a skilled workforce (Don’t ditch standardized tests, improve them, 2014).
Standardized testing has become a central focus for educators with the most recent reform being the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). These standards prepare students for a competitive economy. The CCSS are evidence based, focusing on skills agreed as essential to the 21st century student (About the Standards, n.
d.). They are conceptualized from international benchmarks and are considered to be clear and concise.
These standardized tests are geared toward critical thinking to preparing students for life whether it be continuing their education or job readiness. CCSS prioritizes educating students as worldly rather than in the area they live (Pros and Cons, 2011). Other nations like Canada do not do standardized testing yet they excel in education (Pros and Cons, 2011). The CCSS focus more on getting the U.
S. to align with international competition rather than the desire to enhance our learning process as a nation (Pros and Cons., 2011). By focusing on standardized testing, students lose the opportunity to be creative and it puts more stress on the students. Standardized testing does not assess critical thinking. Testing needs to be reduced.
Although they are important, they take a lot of time away from learning for mindless test prep. Testing needs to be scaled back and revised gaging their progression. The tests need to be able to assess and incorporate critical thinking, as well as problem solving rather than just filling in bubbles. This will affect educators by allowing them to teach a more robust curriculum and gaging against themselves rather than by how much information they can memorize for tests.
In conclusion, the way we teach and how students learn is constantly evolving to match societies need and the advances in technology. It is vital for our future to incorporate technology in the classroom, they will use those skills learned in the real world and it creates a more personalized learning experience, catering to each individual. By holding educators accountable, it creates a bigger weight of their responsibility to keep current on advances not only in technology but also in how we teach our students. Testing is a key component, but the amount of testing done currently is excessive and reduces an educator’s time to teach vital information besides what the student will be tested on.