Changes in Education Not Always for the Best

Ashlyn Story

It has in the recent decade become increasingly apparent that we are in changing times. Many people dread the discussion of what we must do to prepare our youth and give them the resources they need to succeed. What will cause our society to improve most? 

Many believe we should start with education, specifically the American education system, since it is the source of millions of children’s introductions to the world and the way it works. Over the last decade, there have been hundreds of major changes as a result of the progressing society in which we live. Adjustments to policy, curriculum, expectations and even social interaction have impacted students and teachers and allowed for changing student demographics and learning tactics, but we must honestly reflect on whether these changes have been beneficial.  

A major change that American high schoolers endure the effects of daily is the “college-bound culture,” or the rather untrue idea that students must attend college to live what society deems a “successful life.” The main goal of secondary education is no longer working to help young adults develop and prepare for their full adult lives, but is instead preparing them solely for college life, regardless of if college would be most beneficial for the student. This pressure to perform exceedingly well in high school in order to ensure that a student is able to attend college has as a result caused a large increase in anxiety in teens. Research experts have concluded that the increase has been influenced by the change in expectations; post-secondary education is referred to as a requirement.  

These changes in expectation began to become apparent when school systems started feeling the effect of the implementation of Common Core Curriculum. Common Core is meant to track student progress and ensure they graduate high school prepared for college. The idea was to standardize curriculum and therefore strengthen it, but it did quite the opposite. While high school graduation rates have increased, enrollment in post-secondary education, such as college, has actually decreased by almost 3.1 million over the last decade. According to the National Center for Education Statistics’ Program for International Assessment, the United States has continued to decline in the ranks for student’s performance, specifically reading ability, math skills, and science literacy, among other skills, meaning that overall, the quality of American education has gone down over the last decade.