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Expectations And Education Essay

1928 words - 8 pages

Expectations and Education

One of the most sought-after goals in the world of marketing is a high degree of consumer satisfaction. But in the world of education, satisfaction by itself should not be the criterion for success. If both satisfaction and performance are high, we have cause for celebration. If satisfaction is high and performance is low, as is currently the case in the United States, we have cause for serious alarm. According to Stevenson and Stigler in "The Learning Gap", American parents whose children generally score below Asian children on tests of academic achievement, gave the most positive evaluations when asked about their children's schools and how their children ...view middle of the document...

Nevertheless, many Americans assume that positive self-esteem is a necessary precursor of competence and place a higher priority on life adjustment and the enhancement of self-esteem than on academic learning. They forget that one of the most important sources of children's self-esteem is realizing that they have mastered a challenging task. We have gradually come to emphasize the limits of what can be accomplished imposed by innate differences among individuals. There are individual differences among human beings in whatever characteristics are measured. But this variability should not be interpreted to mean that the general level of accomplishment cannot be raised. A person's willingness to expend effort depends on whether he or she believes the effort is worthwhile. Tracking by ability, special education programs, and individualized instruction benefit some children; they also produce the unintended consequences by depriving many children of opportunities to participate in normal classroom activities, thereby limiting their possibilities for learning.

American parents face a number of serious obstacles in judging the quality of their children's education. One of the strongest obstacles is the lack of clear external standards. American elementary schools generally do not provide grades; instead, they offer parents an evaluation of their children's progress made since the last report. Or the teacher may offer a broad classification such as outstanding, satisfactory, or needs improvement. Both types of report allow an optimistic evaluation of children's progress: most children make some progress from term to term, and few are considered to be doing so badly that need to be put in the "needs improvement" category. The most specific information available to American parents comes from the results of state or national tests of educational progress, i.e. Standford 9. But these results, when made available at all, are often given in a form that is difficult to interpret. In Taiwan, parents are able to get feed back on how their children are doing in school much quicker. Schools administer monthly and comprehensive final exams as early as the first grade. Followed by monthly and final report cards. The reports cards are in the percentage format and rank individual student in the class. There are also special exams that are held once a semester and the school ranks each individual student in terms of the whole grade level. The purposes of these exams are: 1) to have students learn how to work under pressure, 2) to see where individual student rank against his classmate or against the whole grade level population, 3) to reflect on teachers teaching, 4) to prepare students for high school and college entrance exams in the future.

American parents also find it difficult to know what they should expect from schools. We lack national performance goals that clearly state what children are expected to learn in each grade. With no generally accepted...

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