Over the past 40 years in the U.S., our student to teacher ratio has dropped from 22:1 to 17:1. Our teachers are better educated than ever – fully 62% today own a Masters degree, compared with only 23% in 1971. And we continue to spend – our nation’s investment in K-12 places us 4th in the world at $11,000 per student, trailing only Luxembourg, Switzerland, and Norway.
So, what’s happened to our reading and math test scores over these past four decades? Virtually flat.
Why is this?
Roland Fryer, the Robert M. Beren Professor of Economics at Harvard, would argue it’s due in part to the fact we really do not know what the problems are. His view: “it’s time to apply some science to the problem of student achievement in our schools.”
When speaking with our customers and prospects in the K-12 community, we hear time and again that budget restrictions are a daily reality.
At the same time, these educators fully understand that in order to prepare the next generation for success in the 21st century economy, a “mixed” learning environment (where new, innovative technologies are incorporated into more traditional curriculum) helps to better engage students and improve academic performance.
From the boardroom to the barroom, American citizens, including President Obama, instinctively know that our K-12 public education system needs to be invigorated. From the President’s State of the Union address this week:
Give [schools] the resources to keep good teachers on the job, and reward the best ones. And in return, grant schools flexibility: to teach with creativity and passion; to stop teaching to the test.
As I listened to the State of the Union speech on Tuesday evening, my ears perked up when I heard these words “Growing industries in science and technology have twice as many openings as we have workers who can do the job”. While I agree that this is” inexcusable”, I couldn’t help but feel gratified that President Obama called attention to our deficiency in 21st century skills-based education.
Although unemployment continues to be a challenge in this country, the demand for technology specialists is on the rise. Projected to grow by 10, 20 and in some cases 50 percent in coming years, jobs like Computer Support Specialist, Analysts and Systems Administrators are in high demand. Read More »
Significant technology developments continue to hit the USA K-12 market.
With Apple’s digital textbook announcement last week, we are now likely to see more acceleration of the spread of new student devices. Is this major announcement by the company that rapidly transformed computing, music and mobility the boost schools need to drive toward the promise of digital technology for all students? And what’s the resulting impact on device and computing trends in K-12?
On the topic of devices, we asked two of our leading K-12 Chief Technology Officer (CTO) customers to give us their opinions. BYOD? 1:1? What’s the better course to pursue? The answer would make Nike proud. While both noted device and equity issues one way or another, all said simply” “Just do it!”. What’s even more interesting – it wasn’t actually all about the device.
Los Gatos High School, located in Los Gatos, California, recently switched to block scheduling, effectively decreasing the number of school days by 15 a year. For science teacher, Steve Hammack, what began as a way to provide students with the lecture content they would necessarily need to pass his courses in the face of a decreased number of school days, has ended up as a new model for students to learn massive amounts of information for his AP Biology and Physics classes. For a technology fan who spends her days at Cisco Systems focused on educators who are using technology to improve learning outcomes, I was intrigued.
I quickly became aware of Mr. Hammack’s approach when I walked into my teenage son’s bedraggled bedroom and heard a familiar voice emanating from the direction of his PC. It sounded like someone I’d met at back-to-school night. My son, Joe, a senior at Los Gatos, was reclined in his chair, feet up on his bed, notebook on his lap, busily listening to the voice and taking copious notes. As I entered his room, Joe clicked a pause button and asked, “What’s up?” “What’s up with you? What are you doing?” He pointed to his screen and said, “Listening to my biology lecture for Mr. Hammack’s class. We do this every night, then we have a quiz or test every day when we come into class.” Interested, I said, “Tell me more. Do you like it?”