Dear Future President,
As an eighth grade student, I have come to a realization. Currently I am learning Algebra 2 and often I think to myself, “When will this information help me in life?” I am stumped nearly every time. The only jobs that contain this information are scientists, animators, or the job as the teacher teaching the Algebra 2! Any other professions I am unaware of because teachers don’t tell us why. So why are we learning about materials that will only help us become a few different professions, when we could be learning about how to spend our money wisely or how to act in a relationship? These are skills we need to learn in life. I see no reason why I need to know what a subject complement is or whether it is a predicate, adjective or predicate nominative, if I know how to write a well written sentence. I see no reason why I need to know the formation of cells and why we have mitochondria in all of them. All of these subject matters file neatly into a few careers and are very directed topics. This needs to change. Students and teachers need to be asking each other the why question. Why should my students care about learning this information? Why do I need to learn the information I am learning as a student? It will take some time but we need to be telling our students why they are learning certain topics or they will see no point in caring about school.
Plenty of students don’t care about learning and instead they only care about their grades. Students will cram information into their brains the night before a big test, get a grade they are happy with, then forget all the information they learned. This shouldn’t be happening. We need to take the focus off of grades and instead focus on general knowledge and how much we are learning. This may include more pop quizzes which hurt one’s grade less just to test knowledge, and going back to information all year long in order to solidify the topic in students’ brains. The problem is that grades may not reflect what students are learning. Studying for a test may help a student get a good grades but according to (http://www.readinghorizons.com/) students will only remember 2-3% of the information taught to them just a month ago! I find this shocking, because according to this by a month into summer students will only remember 2-3% of what they learned all school year long. This clearly shouldn’t be happening. One idea to consider is standards-based grading. This grading system focuses on what students are learning and teaching them the information they need to learn, rather than hoping students do well on tests after cramming the night before(Reasons for Standards Based Grading). Teachers need to focus more on actually teaching the information and having the kids learn it rather than teaching information and hoping the students learn the material. If I didn’t study for tests, I would have terrible grades and this shouldn’t have to be the case. Students should have to practice for tests not teach themselves new material they didn’t learn in class. Instead of me having to teach myself the subject, I should be learning it in class, then practicing it on my own. Although this sometimes isn’t the case and that needs to change.
What I propose to the next president of the United States is to refine our education system. We need to take the focus off of our grades and instead focus on what students are actually learning. Colleges, parents, teachers, administrators, etc. all care too much about grades and not learned information. It doesn’t mean anything if I get an A on a test and then forget everything by the next test in that subject. We are focused on the wrong material and this is a large problem with our education system. I propose that we need to possibly reform tests. They are an ineffective way of testing our knowledge. Students study for tests and this should not be the case. The students should be studying to learn material rather than to get a good grade. Tests cause students to get less sleep and stressed out, and both of these can lead to depression. A more student-friendly way to test knowledge would be to give fewer large tests and multiple small tests instead. This would make sure that students are learning the topic. Then, once the topic is ingrained into students’ brains, there is room for larger tests testing an entire subject area. Also, a student getting an F on a test and walking away isn’t enough. Standards-based testing would help to reteach that student the subject matter and not just have them fail or not learn a large subject matter.
All in all, I feel that as the next president of the United States you need to to take a step back and look at our education system and all of its flaws and look for ways to fix them such as standards-based grading or less large tests.