Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Educational dilemmas

This is entirely correct:
You can hold us accountable for how much our graduates learn.  You can hold us accountable for how many students graduate. You can even hold us accountable for both of those at the same time.  And, amazingly enough, you can hold us accountable for doing this while educating a broad spectrum of public high school grads. What you cannot do is hold us accountable for all of those things AND the cost/time required for them to graduate.  Getting lots of people through in a short time frame, and teaching them a lot along the way, requires a lot of attention and a lot of support (whether financial aid so they can focus on school rather than work, or tutoring and small classes and all that, or even extracurriculars to help them develop certain “soft skills”), and that costs money.  So pick any two: Quality, quantity, and cost (which is directly related to time).  If you say that students are learning less and less, believe me, you’re right.  Just don’t tell me that you want me to fix that AND graduate more students without some major changes to How Things Are Done.

I think the same principle applies to high school education.  Due to the modern phobia of taxes, people do not want to pay more for education.  Yet there is a constant pressure for students to lean more and for education to inclusive/accessible.  I am all for finding ways to be more efficient and evidence based in educational spending.  But it doesn't help if the initial conditions are impossible to meet.

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