Since the 1970s some aspects of students and their lives are relatively unchanged according to a study by the Foundation for Child Development.
Reading abilities, graduation rates, and suicide rates have basically remained the same for teenagers since the 1970s. Also, math rates have risen despite the bad press math and science teachers continually receive.
To me, this speaks quite highly of the work teachers do since the social make-up of the classroom has altered dramatically. More special education students and ELL students are being taught in America’s classrooms meaning that challenges have increased without a reduction in achievement. Additionally, the internet and video games have increasingly competed with schools for time requiring teachers to change their methods.
These findings should also dispel some of the erroneous reports that education today is spiraling into a state of unrecoverable decay. Larger class sizes, more diversity, higher numbers of broken families, and additional academic pressures have not halted student achievement and teacher effectiveness.
In fact, the graduation rate has slightly risen overall from 80.6% to 82.7% from the mid-1970s until 2005. In noting this, I wonder what is an acceptable graduation rate? I believe anything over 90% is unrealistic if we are to have the higher standards advocated by today’s society, but can we say 80-85% is acceptable? What is a realistic graduation rate for our schools?
Other findings in the study include:
- “family mobility is down,”
- “teen birth rates are down,”
- “rates of smoking” are down,
- “drinking and drug use are in decline,”
- teenagers are at “much lower risk of death from accidents, violence or disease,”
- students are “more likely to live below the poverty line,”
- teens are “substantially more likely to be overweight or obese” (additional post here), and
- kids are “less likely to attend church but more likely to believe religion is important.”