Trends in Education in the US

Parents and policymakers around the United States are not happy with with public education. This is why by the year 2005 there were approximately 3,400 charter schools in the United States serving about 800,000 students. Parents want choices.

(Source: Educational Trends Shaping School Planning and Design 2007 by Kenneth R. Stevenson, Department of Educational Leadership and Policies, College of Education, University of South Carolina.) It also appears as if classrooms may be getting smaller. Research shows that over the next 25 years we may see elementary schools housing an average of 200 students, middle schools with no more than 400 to 500 students, and high schools with as few as 500 students. Some supporters argue that small schools are better at improving the academic achievement for students.

They believe small schools have higher graduation rates and improved behavior among students. There has been significant research indicating that smaller classroom benefits include enhanced academic performance and also improved student behavior and teacher morale. A few studies further suggest that such classes particularly benefit at risk students. One very successful program from Brooklyn, New York is known as Create Success. The after school and summer programs from Children of the City (COC) have proven to enhance each student's academic success. 95 percent of the students tested over the last three years improved in several DRA levels; 20 percent increased by one grade level; and participating students said they felt more comfortable reading and more confident at math.

All of the students had a positive outlook towards their success. This data was from evaluations of student performance using NYC Department of Education assessment tools. The COC program is fast becoming a model that is being sought after by other agencies for their own after school program sites. High priority is placed on each student's academic success with intense tutoring and daily help with homework. This opens the door to advocacy within the social systems (school and court), age-appropriate group and individual mentoring, family mediation, performing arts, and sports and recreation. Create Success program goals include: Closing the academic skills gap; displacing the poverty mentality; and providing the support and resources needed to help each child enter the workplace after copleting their education.

Technology in education is another big trend. School districts will need to develop effective methods to control costs caused by more-numerous neighborhood schools, lower teacher-pupil ratios, higher energy costs, and reduced tax revenues. One solution would be by means of virtual education via closed circuit television or through Internet e-learning. In the future, in order to enhance scores on state or national tests, students may be required to sign up for a second course in math instead of taking electives like art. Plus the students who are already doing well in math or science may be encouraged to take more of the advanced math and science courses, all of which raises the school's academic profile. As schools increase the focus on traditional academic subjects, demand for music, art, and vocational courses may diminish.

And one more reason why programs like COC's programs enlist volunteers and staff to reach the children at home, at school, on the streets and playgrounds.

Kristin Gabriel is an author and social media marketing professional with clients including Rocco Basile of the the Basile Builders Group based in New York. Basile is involved with several charities including Children of the City and the Joe DiMaggio Committee for Xaverian High School.

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