Think Tank Claims Students Think School is Too Easy – Is It?

A Washington-based think tank has claimed that students find school too easy. The Center for American Progress examined federal survey data and concluded that in addition students were not being prepared for the global economy.

The report, ‘Do Schools Challenge Our Students' found that: a third of high school seniors hardly ever wrote about what they read in class; 72% of eighth grade science students weren't being taught engineering and technology; and a third of eighth graders read less than five pages a day during homework and school combined.

The center delved into the federal data after the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation released findings in its Measures of Effective Teaching Project in 2011, that student feedback was a far better predictor of a teacher's performance than more traditional indicators of success, such as whether a teacher had a master's degree or not.

Ulrich Boser, who co-authored the report with Lindsay Rosenthal for the Obama administration-aligned think tank, believes that the Common Core Standards will go some way to address the problems his report has identified.

The solution may be found in the higher, tougher standards contained in the Common Core, a program adopted by 45 states but criticized by some as federal overreach, he said.

"They ratchet up standards for all students," Boser said.

The report was released at a news conference by the center on July 10. Tiffany Francis, a second-grade teacher at Pittsburgh King, The Teaching Institute participated in this conference. She has nine years classroom experience and recently received results of her first student-perception survey. Francis says the results showed clearly that her students wanted to be heard more and she now plans to make sure they have a voice within her classroom.

"That will help me in my planning and teaching strategies," she said.

She said her district pushes students to dig deeper in their explanations of math problems.

"Not just 5+5=10, but show me what that means," she said. "In reading, we're not getting opinion and feedback and thoughts; we're not asking them to dig as deep as they do for math," she said.

Ulrich Boser is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress where he analyzes education, criminal justice, and other social policy issues. He was formerly a contributing editor for US News & World Report, special projects director for The Washington Post Express and research director for Education Week.

07 12, 2012
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