William W. North Carolina

Reforming Education

This letter talks about our education system, and what we can do to make things better.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines education as “the knowledge, skill, and understanding that you get from attending a school, college, or university.” Why do schools and students primarily care about their grades instead of their education? Grades and test scores have become the most important thing to students today. Instead of focusing on grades, students should focus on learning and understanding the material. Teachers and school systems need to offer classes that teach life skills along with core subjects, and students need to care about understanding the material instead of the grade.

Students pour too much effort and concern into their grades instead of their learning, and it is not their fault. The competition between other students forces other classmates to focus on their grades and GPA more than educating themselves. There are 2,611,172 students taking AP classes in 2016 (AP Program Participation and Performance Data). Students are taking these AP courses to boost their GPA and their chances of getting into a good college. Colleges are important to students today, and colleges look at grades and other test scores. The average acceptance rate into an Ivy League university is 9.4375% (2016 Ivy League Admissions Statistics). Students feel that they must have the highest GPA if they want to make it into a university of their choice. Competition today is fierce, and it is pulling the spotlight of the point of education.

Standardized tests fail to truly represent the capability of a student. Standardized tests are not always taken with academic credibility. “In a survey of 24,000 students at 70 high schools, Donald McCabe (Rutgers University) found that 64 percent of students admitted to cheating on a test, 58 percent admitted to plagiarism and 95 percent said they participated in some form of cheating, whether it was on a test, plagiarism or copying homework” (Academic Integrity In High School). Teachers can even cheat in order to raise their test scores and improve the school’s reputation. An article posted in 2015 written by Valerie Strauss talks about 11 teachers cheating on standardized tests. The teachers knew that the test scores at their school needed to go up, and they were willing to cheat for it. This shows that not all test scores are accurate.

Some people believe that grades benefit students’ learning. They think this because they believe that the desire to get good grades helps people learn information when they do schoolwork. Students do not always pay attention to their work. Some students copy down answers, or just search things online. Students are not actually using schoolwork to learn; they are just copying everything down. Teachers grade differently from other teachers, and some teachers grade heavily on homework, and others grade heavily on tests. If different teachers have different grading methods, then a 100 in English could take the same work as a 90 in Math.

We can solve these issues by eradicating our grade system and replacing it with a better grading system. An idea for a new grading system is having grades reflect if you are where you need to be or not in a certain subject. Students compare themselves down to the very last point when it comes to number grades. With a grade such as “Above Expectations” or “Meets Expectations”, students can see that they are where they need to be. Another possible grading system is simply having letter grades instead of the number grades. We can give students an understanding of where they are at without having them stress too much about their actual grade. These new grading systems need to “emphasize learning over grades” and “discourage cheating” (Reis).

If the United States cares about the future, then why do we not focus on true education? Education is not making a 97 in your math class; education is understanding the content of your math class. If we focus on making our schools have the best grades, then we will not have the information to run a country. Education should be reverted back into what it was created for: learning.

Works Cited

“2016 Ivy League Admissions Statistics | Ivy Coach.” Ivy Coach, https://www.ivycoach.com/2016-ivy-league-admissions-statistics/.

“AP Program Participation and Performance Data 2016 – Research – The College Board.” AP Program Participation and Performance Data 2016 – Research – The College Board, The College Board, https://research.collegeboard.org/programs/ap/data/participation/ap-2016.

“Facts &Amp; Stats.” Plagiarism.org, http://www.plagiarism.org/resources/facts-and-stats/.

Merriam-Webster. “Education Definition.” Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster, http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/education.

Nilson, Linda B. “The Need for a New Grading System.” The Need for a New Grading System, Stylus Publishing, LLC , Sterling, Virginia, 2015, https://tomprof.stanford.edu/posting/1443.

Strauss, Valerie. “How and Why Convicted Atlanta Teachers Cheated on Standardized Tests.” Washington Post, The Washington Post, 1 Apr. 2015, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2015/04/01/how-and-why-convicted-atlanta-teachers-cheated-on-standardized-tests/.

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