Proposal for the Benefit of Our Students and Society
The discourse around Social Security has been cluttered by misinformation and thoughts that have been misconstrued due to improper research on the subject. Currently our high school system does not properly prepare students for the high level of critical thinking that is required for students to become academic writers that properly contribute to discourse. Students do not learn how to evaluate sources and cannot address the complexity in the issue. The solution to this problem is a change in the curriculum that schools should follow. I propose that lawmakers make a change to the common core system, specifically within high schools, that will force high schools to place a new emphasis on the value of research so that students may be more prepared for the forms of writing that they will encounter in the collegiate level.
Various studies have shown that students are ill-prepared to succeed in a college level writing course. The National Assessment of Educational Progress found that “40 percent of [students] that took ACT writing exam… lacked the reading and writing skills necessary to complete successfully a college level composition class” (Goldstein, 2017). While various changes to classroom structure have taken place to fix the issue, such as the implementation of the Common Core curriculum, no changes have succeeded in doing so. Margaret Kantz, an English professor, writes about the issues she noticed in college writing, specifically from students who have not been properly taught the correct conventions of formal, academic writing. She states that the skills students have been taught to use do not allow for a more complex view of the text which would allow for better writing (Kantz, 1990). Another change to the system could potentially fix these issues, assuming teachers follow suit.
The solution that I believe will have the most success in allowing more student success in academia is changing the current Common Core writing curriculum into one that causes teachers to stress the importance of research and developing your own opinion. Currently, Common Core is focused on providing teachers with three writing standards they must follow, argumentative, informal, and narrative (Goldstein, 2017). While it can be argued that argumentative does include some aspects of research, the curriculum should be altered to make research its own category, thereby putting more of an emphasis on it in the classroom.
This curriculum change be requiring students to complete one full research paper, which will consist of 8 sources and a mini literature review that will summarize and compare the sources, on a topic of their choice. This will help students gain the motivation to type their paper and put effort into it as they will be writing on topics close to them (Emily, 2015). Studies also show that students that have an interest in the class will have mostly a positive impact from that class (Mamorella, 2013). The new curriculum will also force teachers to create new lesson plans to implement in the classroom. As new lesson plans are created, teacher must re-evaluate their teaching style and find what out what is most appropriate to student development. As some teachers have been focusing on old material, recreating their lesson plan would allow them to put a focus on newer, more important content(Sawchuk, 2017).
Research should continue to be done on the effect of the curriculum before it is implemented nationwide, which is why I suggest that the new curriculum be tested in public charter schools. One purpose of charter schools is to serve as a testing ground for new ideas, which makes it the perfect place to research the changes in student writing compared to students learning by the old lessons (Finn, Manno, Wright, 2017). I believe that the government should establish charter schools across the U.S., in both low income and high income communities, and test the effects of a new curriculum. However, I do understand that this may be costly, as establishing schools can become very expensive for the government.
The biggest issue I see with this proposal is that teachers may be hesitant to change into the new curriculum. First of all, developing a new lesson plan would take a lot of time on the teacher’s part without the added benefit of increased pay. A study has shown that currently teachers work around 16 hours when out of class work is accounted for (Murray, 2013). In order to create the lesson plans around the new curriculum, teachers would have to add on even more time to their packed day. Second of all, teachers would be losing a valuable source of income. According to Teachers pay Teachers, a site where teachers can sell old lesson plans and activities for money, the 80,000 teachers using the site have earned over $100 million. As some may argue teachers are underpaid, it would be hard to tell teachers to get rid of another source of income. This could easily be solved with a stipend provided to teachers that embrace the new curriculum. Funds would need to be set aside by the government, likely in terms of block grants to states to distribute as they see fit.
Students need to learn how to construct strong papers that lead to better arguments. Curriculum changes for high schoolers would better prepare our students for the collegiate level writing they will encounter should they choose to pursue it. Even for students that are not planning to attend a college, this focus on research and arguing claims will allow them to contribute to all types of conversations and debates. This will prevent the misinformation that ran amok in the debate around Social Security from happening again.
(2015, May 6). Five Ways to Inspire Your Students to Write. Retrieved from https://educationtothecore.com/2015/05/five-ways-to-inspire-your-students-to-write/
Finn, C., Manno, B. V., & Wright, B. (2017, May 8). The Purpose of Charter Schools. Retrieved from https://www.usnews.com/opinion/knowledge-bank/articles/2017-05-08/how-charter-schools-improve-traditional-district-education
Goldstein, D. (2017, August 02). Why Kids Can’t Write. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/02/education/edlife/writing-education-grammar-students-children.html
Mamorella, D. (2013). [What Makes the Biggest Impact on Student Learning?]. Albany Published raw data.
Murray, C. (2013, August 05). How Many Hours Do Educators Actually Work? Retrieved from https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2013/08/how-many-hours-do-educators-actually-work
Sawchuk, S. (2017, June 29). When the Curriculum Standards Change and the Teaching Lags Behind. Retrieved from http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/curriculum/2017/06/when_the_curriculum_standards_change_and_teaching_lags.html
Thompson, C. (2017, April 13). Teachers are making millions selling their lessons plans online. Retrieved from https://www.businessinsider.com/teachers-making-millions-online-lesson-plans-2017-4
Toch, T., & Headden, S. (2014, September 3). How to Motivate Students to Work Harder. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2014/09/how-to-get-insecure-students-to-work-harder/379500/