Education can be a hot-button topic for many people. New trends are emerging that are both controversial and encouraging. This lesson outlines issues and top trends.
Hot Topics in Education
Have you noticed the recent buzz around education? Lately, there have been some important discussions and debates surrounding issues and trends in K-12 education and beyond. Everyone seems to have an opinion, maybe even you. Let's take a look at some trends and issues to see where you weigh in.
When we're talking about issues and trends, we're going to define issues as ideas, thoughts, and debates centered on educational policy and practices. Trends will refer to new, up-and-coming, and popular educational practices.
Most educators, parents, and even politicians have an opinion on what's going on in their local schools. Think of your own thoughts about what you see going on in schools in your region as well as across the country. What makes you feel passionate? Angry? Frustrated? Some of the issues receiving the most attention include the use of standardized testing, equity in education, and the use of adaptive learning in the classroom.
Standardized tests are examinations that are given to students and scored in the same way in classrooms across the country. They are administered to students annually to determine if they are meeting objectives set by their home state. Since the institution of standardized tests, in many schools an emphasis has been placed on the outcome of the test. This change in focus has had an effect on what students are taught in class, with classroom teaching shifting from traditional instruction to test preparation.
While there are certainly those who support the tests' ability to evaluate students' and schools' effectiveness, standardized testing also has its opponents. Administrators and teachers feel the pressure to have their students perform well on these assessments and often take their eyes off the concept of teaching each individual child and instead focus on preparing children to pass a test. Parents and teachers are becoming frustrated with the amount of time, energy, and resources thrown at testing in schools and are demanding a closer look at testing practices and philosophies.
Equity in education refers to exactly what standardized tests attempt to measure: how fair and equal education is to all students, regardless of socioeconomic background. Research definitively shows that not all students across the country are receiving the same education. Children in poverty are far more likely to drop out of school before graduating high school, tend to have more discipline issues in the classroom, and generally perform lower on standardized tests. The causes and solutions to equity in education remain in question, but the passion behind balancing the scale on this issue is unquestionable.
Have you heard of adaptive learning yet? This new trend is gaining in popularity in some circles but has its equal share of critics. Adaptive learning utilizes technology to provide individualized instruction for students. Using online resources and computer programs, and depending on a student's performance on material, the presentation of the next unit may change to better suit the individual's needs. Many teachers and parents share the opinion that they want real people teaching children, not a computer. Others tout the ability of technology to intuit a child's needs and offer specific instruction as a plus.
One of the great things about education is that it's reflective. We like our data and use it to drive smart decisions. What have you heard about as the newest focus and slant in education? See if your ideas match these.
One of the top trends in postsecondary education is change in the higher education system. Contributing factors to this trend include the rising cost of college, increased debt-to-income ratio held by graduates due to college loans, and the decreased weight of a typical four-year degree. The fact is that a bachelor's degree is far more expensive to earn and does far less for the graduate in the 'real world' than in decades past. Now, the latest trend in higher education is NOT to go to college. New models of post K-12 education are emerging that question the number of credits needed to graduate and the amount of non-essential classes necessary. With the rise of online education and students attending junior colleges and transferring credits, a new form of higher education is on the rise.
While change in postsecondary school is trending, so is change in pre-elementary school. There's no question about how much better children perform for the life of their academic career if they are exposed to quality experiences in early childhood. Using this research, educators are structuring more and more early childhood education programs into their elementary school programs. More funding than ever before is being provided for educating children as policy makers recognize the cost-effective measures of giving all children a good start.
As previously mentioned, online education is definitely on trend for college students. But online education for K-12 students? Yep, it's happening, too! The sector of children logging on to class at home instead of hopping onto a bus is a fast-growing trend throughout the U.S. Many parents choose this model because of overcrowded classrooms, bullying in schools, or a desire to get more one-on-one attention for their child.
One topic that straddles both issue and trend is standard-based learning, or SBL. Standard-based learning is the practice of teaching to objectives, or standards, written by either the state or federal government. The Common Core Standards is an example of SBL. These objectives outline what students are expected to achieve within a specified time frame. Using SBL has meant that content instruction has been streamlined; a student in one part of the city is learning the same things as his counterpart on the other side of town. However, some folks feel being told what, when, and how to teach is too much control in the classroom and takes the reigns away from the person who knows the student's needs the most: the teacher.
Let's review. Issues are ideas, thoughts, and debates centered on educational policy and practices. Trends are new, up-and-coming, and popular educational practices.
Some of the issues discussed in this lesson include standardized tests, which are examinations that are given to students and scored in the same way in classrooms across the country; equity in education, or how fair and equal education is to all students, regardless of socioeconomic background; and adaptive learning, which utilizes technology to provide individualized instruction for students.
Trends on topic in the U.S. educational system include change in the higher education system, the popularity and funding of early childhood education, and online education for K-12 as well as postsecondary students. Standard-based learning, or the practice of teaching to objectives or standards written by either the state or federal government, is both a trendy practice in schools across the nation as well as an often-argued issue.
After you're finished with the video, you should be able to:
- Distinguish between issues and trends in education
- Consider how standardized tests, equity in education, and adaptive learning are all issues facing education
- Describe a few trends within education currently
- Recognize how standard-based learning is both an issue and a trend