A a total of 168 hours, 120 if

A
Better Education System

Background

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            Education is quite possibly the second most important
thing in our society, next to money. America is known for having the top
colleges and universities in the world, but what about our education before
then? If you ask current college students, such as the ones on my dorm floor,
what they thought of their high school education before they answer the
question they’ll most likely state some complaint about high school. The
complaint is along the lines of “I wish high school taught me more useful real
world things” or “high school took up way too much time”. Both of these are
valid complaints that America’s current education system fails in. America’s
schools are quite notorious online for having an absurd number of standardized
tests that add nothing to the education of the students. These tests are purely
for funding of schools, which you would think since there are so many of the
test that the funding is adequate but that’s not even true, the government is
horrendous at funding schools evenly.

             A problem with the
current school system happens to be the actual students. As said earlier the
complaint that high school didn’t teach anything real world useful is universal
today. You see this complaint on twitter, Tumblr, YouTube comments, and even in
movies. But why even is there this complaint? While, yes, school does not have
classes in finance or job applications worked into the core classes, in most
high schools they are offered as side classes. However, people seem to miss the
entire point of high school. The point is not to give you a baseline of
information and then send you to a job. The point of high school, and why it is
so hard to teach, is it is supposed to give the students a wide variety of
knowledge that will hopefully lead them into a career that they would like to
do. Not everyone is going to use differential equations in their lives, most
people won’t really use anything past Algebra 2, but some students may not know
that they like those classes and taking them opens a whole variety of job
opportunities for the student.

            As for the second complaint of high school takes too much
time, this is true and sadly for the wrong reasons. In a week there are a total
of 168 hours, 120 if you only count the school week. Of these 168 hours roughly
32 hours are in class, 47.6 are sleeping, 15.55 are homework, and 21 are sports.
School lasts 7 hours a day for 5 days where classes meet 4 hours per week, the
average amount of sleep for a high school student is 6.8 hours, the average
amount of homework per weeknight is 3.11 hours, and the average practice length
of sports are 3.5 hours. These hours total up to 116.15 hours per week spent
doing high school related activities, this is excluding any clubs or out of
school sports related activities that a student may do. These statistics may
seem fine since it leaves 51 hours of free time, this is where things get crazy
for high school. According to pretty much any college the proper way to study
is about 2 hours for every hour spent in class, this way it’s a consistent study
and the brain retains more information than just cramming the night before.
Except, if 32 hours a week are in class, and since high schools generally use
block scheduling each class meets the same amount per week, this means 70 hours
a week should be used for studying properly. Based off the current school
system students need 180.15 hours per week just to keep up with their
schooling. It’s no wonder high school students are more stressed out than ever.
According to UCLA high school students now are partying a fourth as much as
their parents, and hanging out with friend half as much.

            Standardized testing, 93% of studies say that they are a
positive impact on a student’s education, but students seem to disagree.
Standardized testing starts in second grade and happens yearly through juniors
in high school, some years there are multiple tests per year. Students are
tired of standardized tests that take place of actual instruction time and add
no real academic value, they don’t go on your transcript, and they’re purely
for funding to the school. Last year in Colorado there was a huge uproar over
standardized testing. Colorado decided to usher in a new wave of standardized
tests, the CMAS, this test was to be given to high school seniors which made
everyone go into an uproar. Senior year was supposed to be the year focused on
college and no testing. It was insulting to the students that there was another
test they had to take that wasn’t even going on college transcripts. This test
was protested by Colorado’s top performing and wealthiest counties, Douglas,
Cherry Creek, and Boulder, in Douglas County over half of the student refused
to take the test, I was one, in Cherry Creek only 37% took the test and in
Boulder a mere 16% of students took the test. These tests were for funding and
school districts try to use teachers to guilt trip people into taking tests,
the tests supposedly reflect the teacher’s performance and therefore decides
their pay. This is wrong.

Solution

            There is no real solution to this education problem,
however, I think this would be the best way to go about it. Unfortunately the
first complaint may never go away, but if we introduced subjects earlier on in
schooling kids would be able to see the value of what they’re doing. Currently
the non-stem side of school is fine where it is, the problem is math and
science are nowhere near where they need to be in this fast progressing time. In
the current elementary school curriculum math progresses from first grade math,
which is a generalization of all mathematics, each section is a portion of math
graphing, fraction, operations, etc., to pre-algebra which is an introduction
to Algebra. So essentially the math is progressing from generalization of math
to a generalization of the backbone of mathematics. That’s pitiful, it’s no
wonder so many kids hate mathematics, it’s just repetition of the same thing
for 8 years until you get to the actual useful stuff in Algebra. I propose
almost a complete overhaul of the department. Going through each year I can see
things that I never used and will never use, and I’m in engineering so I’ll be
using almost all of math. After removing these topics and re arranging them it
should move the curriculum two years ahead, this allows Algebra and Geometry to
be taught in 7th and 8th grade. This puts students in
high school through at least calculus by junior year, giving them senior year
to decide if they really want to pursue a math heavy majors in college. As for
science the changes are not as much as mathematics. Simply moving the
curriculum a year ahead would suffice, this would put Biology in 8th
grade and make chemistry and physics the first two years of high school. Having
these two within the first two years opens up the option to take the advanced
courses in each junior instead of senior year where they were previously taken.
Having the increased level of mathematics and science earlier on in a student’s
career should increase the amount that are sure they want to go into those
types of fields and look into how they can achieve those goals.

            Time management is essential for an efficient school
system. The school year would adopt the year round school system of 45-15 where
the students go to school for 45 school days (3 months) and then are out of
school for 15 (3 weeks).  This allows a
consistent learning with adequate breaks that the students will need to keep up
with studies. The current school week for high school is based off the block
schedule which is 8 classes and the week is split into odd classes on Monday and
Wednesday while evens are on Tuesday and Thursday for 90 minutes each class,
then on Friday every class meets for 50 minutes. This is a great schedule,
except Friday, most classes through my high school career saw Friday as a
waste. Nothing of importance was completed on this day, teachers could barely
teach a decent lesson. In the new school system block schedules should keep the
8 classes split by odds and evens except on Friday it should essentially be a
required study day. This cuts down on the amount of required studying outside
of class. Furthermore, classes need to become more interactive with teachers
and students. Homework should not be required, it takes up crucial times that
both students and teachers need. Instead, classes should be a quiz based grade
with a yearlong cumulative final at the end that decides if you pass or not,
passing grades would be decided by the individual school districts. Each pop
quiz would be tailored towards the individual student meaning that the first
quiz would establish a baseline for the students and each quiz after would
emphasize their weaknesses of the class. This puts work that replaces grading
homework, the teachers would know each student better and have a better
understanding of each student’s learning. This also puts work onto the
students, they would need to properly study for each class to continually get
better at what they struggle with in each class. Now back to the hours each
week. As said before students would need 180.15 hours to complete their school work.
With this the students would be in class each week for 24 hours- closer to a
college schedule- requiring 48 hours a week of proper studying except Friday is
a 1 hour study for each class knocking that down to 40 hours of studying
outside of class. There would be no more homework so that gets rid of 15.55
hours. Assuming the sleep schedule and sports stay the same in order for
students to adequately complete their school studies they would need 140.6
hours a week, leaving 27.4 hours of free time. Of course 27.4 hours is not a
ton of free time but remember that this is only for 3 months at a time and then
they get a 3 week break from school which would be used to relieve stress built
up from the school year.

            The hardest part of implementing a new school system is
how it would be funded. Currently public schools are given funding based off
their standardized test scores, which leads to many teachers teaching to the
test to improve scores. This would not work in the school system laid out, and
really barely works in the current school system. The United States spends
roughly 950.8 billion on education. Teachers should be payed a base starting
salary, $49,000 would be the minimum, then based off of the performance of the
class with rigor of the course taken into account. The current amount of full
time teachers is 3.1 million which costs 152 billion dollars in teacher
starting salaries. This means the only way to move is up depending on how well
you teach your subject. Reflections of teacher performance would be taken from
the progress of the quizzes along with the results off the cumulative exam at
the end of the year. Possible bonuses for each school would be awarded for the
percent of graduating kids. The standards for graduation would be 4 credits of
math (algebra 2, trig/pre calc, statistics, calculus), 4 credits of science
(chemistry, physics, higher level), 4 credits of English (English 1-4 or AP), 3
credits of social studies, 4 credits of practical arts (business, computers,
etc.), 1 credits of fine arts (music, art, theatre, etc.) and 8 credits of
electives (foreign language, specific sciences, etc.) along with obtaining at
least a 2.5 GPA, this totals 28 credit hours which is at minimum 7 classes per
year.

            The school system I would implement cuts down would
require students to take classes in business or finance thus eliminating the
complaint of not learning enough practical knowledge in school. It also cuts
down on the amount of time students stress about school allowing students to
take more rigorous schedules while still having the spare time to do things
they enjoy. Re adjusting the education system for elementary schools gives
students a background in problem solving and critical thinking allowing for
more engineers, scientists, and entrepreneurs to come into the work force. The
changes laid out would not be easy to implement, and surely unions and such
would oppose it. But I believe that it is the proper way to prepare our future
generations for this technologically advanced society we are progressing
towards so quickly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Citations

1.     
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2.     
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3.     
Government Spending Details. (n.d.).
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http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/year_spending_2016USbn_17bs2n_2030#usgs302

4.     
Homeschool, Afterschool, Summer Study –
Time4Learning. (n.d.). Retrieved December 11, 2015, from https://www.time4learning.com/education/curriculum_overview.shtml

5.     
How Many Hours Should You Study Every
Week? (n.d.). Retrieved from
http://news.everest.edu/post/2008/03/study-hours/#.VmtRvL9rjxU

6.     
Research Spotlight on Year-Round
Education. (n.d.). Retrieved December 11, 2015, from
http://www.nea.org/tools/17057.htm

7.     
 Statistic Brain. (n.d.). Retrieved December
11, 2015, from http://www.statisticbrain.com/education

8.     
 (n.d.). Retrieved from
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/parents-partied-harder-than-todays-high-schoolers-says-ucla/

9.     
(n.d.). Retrieved from
http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_26930017/thousands-colorado-high-school-students-refuse-take-sate