Monday, December 3, 2012

Longer School Days Will Mean Better Test Scores?

It's no secret that the American school system is underperforming.  This is especially true for students in America's inner-cities, where Black and Latino students do not perform as well on standardized exams as White and Asian students.

There have been a number of proposed solutions to the inequality and underperformance of the American educational system.  One big trend is "teacher accountability."  According to proponents of this trend, better teachers and lower class sizes will mean better academic performance for all students.

There are others, however, who point to the Coleman Report of 1964, which indicated that students tend to underperform when they come from areas of poverty, violence and broken homes.  Proponents of this approach suggest that if the government can create anti-poverty programs (similar to those which were created in the 1960s) this would also help students perform better in school. If students come from very poor and violent environments, this adversely affects their ability to do well in school.  Fix this social and economic problem and you'll find that the schools work afterall.

Now there's a new approach.  In five states students will be kept in school longer.  It is felt this will improve academic performance (without having to create an anti-poverty program).

1)  Which of the three aproaches do you think will work best?  Teacher accountability, anti-poverty programs or longer school days?

2)  Do you believe that longer school days will work? For how long can students focus on academic work?  Shouldn't students have time to pursue recreational and sports activities and socialize? 

3)  Do you feel that there is a significant problem with US schools? After all, almost everyone in the world wants to attend a US university?

4)  Why do you feel that Blacks and Latinos are far underperforming White and Asian students?  What do you think should be done?

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