What We’re Doing Right

A recent gallup poll revealed that only 29% of Americans have “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in public schools. That is obviously a very disheartening number. Years of disparaging stories about America’s education system have rooted themselves in the public’s mind, and at times it can seem like everything is going wrong.

But that’s not true. The Center’s Patte Barth, in an article for the American School Board Journal, has compiled a list of 10 Good Things About Public Education to show that the nation’s public schools are getting a lot of things right.

The following are a few of Patte’s points:

  • Mathematics –  No, we’re not #1 in the world, but we’re making rapid progress. Since 1990, America’s fourth-grade students have gained 28 points on National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) math tests. Eighth-graders improved 21 points over the same period.
  • High school graduation rates – Due to the implementation of systems designed to detect early warning signs in students who are at risk of dropping outthe nation’s on-time graduation rate has risen from 72.6% to 75.5% since 2002. The inclusion of late graduates could raise that number by another 5 to 8 percentage points.
  • High-quality pre-k – Few investments pay off more in the long run than making sure a child is ready for school when they enter kindergarten. Over the past decade, the number of four-year-olds enrolled in state-supported pre-k programs was 27%. When including Head Start programs, the number increases to 39%.
  • English Language Learners (ELL) – ELL students in America often performed as good or better in reading achievement when compared to non-native language speaking students in other industrial nations with high proportions of immigrant children. This despite the fact that American ELL students often come from poorer families than those in other countries.

For a more in-depth look at the full list, including Patte’s suggestions on how we can keep improving, please read 10 Good Things About Public Education.

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