Can you name 10 good things about public education?
Patte Barth, director of NSBA’s Center for Public Education, recently wrote about the many successes in public education for American School Board Journal, and she also gave her suggestions for ways schools can improve.
For instance, she notes, fourth-graders have improved their reading skills by six points on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) over the past decade.
“If that doesn’t sound like much, consider that 10 points on the NAEP scale is approximately one year’s worth of learning,” Barth writes. “More significantly, the gains have largely been from the bottom up, and the achievement gap is narrowing between children of color and their white classmates.”
In high school, more students are taking higher-level courses, and schools are becoming better at addressing the needs of students at risk of dropping out, thus increasing their graduation rates. But there are still some 3,000 high schools that lack the capacity to offer Algebra II, and policymakers and the public must ensure that all students have access to higher-level courses and the supports they need to be prepared for college or the workforce, Barth says.
And polls show that local communities continue to support their local schools even as the public opinion of public education has declined.
The list includes:
1. Community support
3. High school graduation rates
4. High-quality prekindergarten
5. High-level high school courses
6. ESEA and IDEA: Monumental laws
7. English language learners
9. Beginning reading
10. A tradition of universal education
Barth’s column also was recently featured in Education Week’s “K-12 Parents and the Public” blog.