Putting Education Reform To The Test

Report: U.S., Florida Students Aren’t Challenged In Class

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Too many U.S. students think their class work is easy, according to the authors of a new report.

Nearly four in ten Florida 4th graders say their math class work is too easy, according to an analysis of student survey data by the Center for American Progress.

The survey also found 30 percent of Florida 8th graders read five or fewer pages in class or for homework each day. And more than two-thirds of Florida 8th graders said they had not been taught about engineering and technology.

The report argues that curriculum at U.S. schools is not strenuous enough and that work loads are too light compared to other nations.

“Teaching is not easy work, and most teachers work very hard every day at their
practice,” the study’s authors write. “But it’s clear that too many students are not being engaged in class.
“These students don’t understand their teachers, and they don’t feel like they are always learning.”

Why do student surveys matter? The report cites research from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation arguing student surveys are a somewhat more reliable measure of teacher performance than graduate degrees and other traditional markers of a teacher’s experience.

The report also shows that though many students are finding their classes too easy, they aren’t backing those boasts up on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test.

Just 32 percent of 4th graders scored a ‘4’ or ‘5’ on the math portion of the 2012 FCAT — the highest scores on the exam. That’s less than the 39 percent of students who said their math coursework was often or almost always too easy.

However, the percentage of 8th grader scoring a ‘4’ or ‘5’ on the FCAT was slightly higher than the 26 percent of students who reported their coursework often or almost always too easy.

The study authors argue that the difference may be due to gaps between the questions and the class lessons. Or, they argue, students could do poorly on tests because schools are not challenging them.


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