5 May, 2016
Student learning is adversely affected with the issues schools face.
Administrators and teachers work hard to overcome these challenges, but it is often an uphill climb. No matter what approaches are implemented, there are some factors that will likely never be eliminated. However, schools must do their best to minimize the effect these issues have while maximizing student learning. Educating students is a difficult challenge because there are so many natural obstacles that hinder student learning.
Here are some common issues that schools have to deal with:
Most teachers are effective teachers and they are sandwiched between the great teachers and the bad teachers. There are bad teachers, and while they represent a small sample size of teachers, they are usually the ones who sadly generate the most publicity. For the majority of teachers, this is frustrating because they work hard every day to make sure that the students receive a quality education with little fanfare.
A bad teacher can set a student or group of students back considerably. They can create tremendous learning gaps making the next teacher’s job so much more challenging. A bad teacher can foster an atmosphere full of discipline issues and chaos establishing a pattern that is extremely difficult to break. They can destroy a student’s confidence and overall morale. The effects can be disastrous and nearly impossible to reverse.
This is the reason that administrators must make sure that they make smart hiring decisions. These decisions must not be taken lightly. The teacher evaluation process is very important. Administrators must use the evaluation system to make informed decisions when retaining teachers year over year. They cannot be afraid to put the necessary work required to dismiss a bad teacher who will damage students in the district.
Discipline issues cause distractions and these distractions add up and limit learning time. Every time a teacher has to deal with a discipline issue they lose valuable instructional time. Lost time adds up quickly. In addition, student loses valuable instruction time each time a student is sent to the office for disciplinary actions.
The bottom line is that any discipline issue will result in the loss of instruction time, which limits a student’s learning potential.
For these reasons, teachers and administrators must be able to reduce these disruptions. Teachers can do this by giving a structured learning environment and engaging students in exciting, dynamic lessons that captivate students and prevent them from being bored. Administrators must create well-written policies that hold students responsible. They should educate parents and students on these policies. Administrators must be firm, fair, and consistent when dealing with any student discipline issue.
Lack of Proper Funding
Funding has a great influence on student performance. A lack of financial support typically leads to larger class sizes and less technology and curriculum materials. The more students a teacher has, the less attention they can pay to each individual student. This can become significant when a class is full of 30-40 students at varying academic levels.
Teachers must be equipped with engaging tools covering the standards they are required to teach. Technology is a significant academic tool, but it is also pricey to purchase, maintain, and upgrade. Curriculum generally changes continuously and needs to be updated, but most states curriculum adoption run in five-year cycles. At the end of the five-year cycles, the curriculum is totally outdated and physically worn out.
Lack of Student Motivation
There are many students who simply do not care about going to school or putting in the effort needed to maintain their grades. It is extremely frustrating to have a pool of students who are only there because they have to be. An unmotivated student may initially be on grade level, but they will fall behind only to wake up one day and realize it is too late to catch up. A teacher or administrator can only do so much to motivate a student. Ultimately it is up to them as to whether or not they choose to change. There are many students in schools across America with tremendous potential who choose not to live up to that potential.
Federal and state mandates are taking their tolls on school districts across the country. There are numerous new requirements each year that schools do not have the time or resources to employ and maintain them all successfully. Most of the mandates are passed with good intentions, but the spacing of these mandates puts schools in a bind. They are often unfunded and need a lot of extra time that could be spent in other critical areas. Schools simply do not have sufficient time and resources to do many of these new mandates justice.
Students cannot learn if they are not at school. It is frustrating that so many parents let their children to stay home for no legitimate reason other than they do not want to come to school. Missing just ten days of school each year from Kindergarten to twelfth grade adds up to missing almost an entire school year by the time they graduate. There are some students that can overcome poor attendance, but many who have a chronic attendance problem fall behind and stay behind.
Schools must hold students and parents responsible for consistent excessive absences. Schools should have a solid attendance policy in place that specifically addresses excessive absences. Teachers cannot do their jobs if students are not required to show up on a daily basis.
Poor Parental Support
Parents are typically the most influential people in every aspect of a child’s life. This is especially true when it comes to education. There are exceptions to the rule, but usually, if the parents value education, their children will be academically successful. Parental involvement is vital to educational success. Parents who give their children a solid foundation before school begins and stay involved throughout school will reap the advantages as their children will likely be successful.
Likewise, parents who are not so really involved with their child’s education have a significant negative impact. This can be extremely frustrating for teachers. It is a continuous uphill battle. These students are often behind when they start school due to a lack of exposure. It is extremely challenging for them to catch them up. These parents think it is the school’s job to educate and not theirs when in truth it has to be a dual partnership.
Poverty has a great impact on student learning. There has been much research to support this premise. Those students living in affluent well-educated homes are frequently academically successful while those living in poverty are usually behind academically.
Poverty is a difficult issue to overcome. It occurs generation over generation and becomes the accepted norm, which makes it almost impossible to break. Though education is a significant part of breaking the grips of poverty, most of these students are so far behind academically that they will never get that chance.
Shift in Instructional Focus
When schools fail, administrators and teachers almost always take the brunt of the blame. This is somewhat understandable, but the accountability of educating should not fall solely on the school. This deferred shift in educational responsibility is one of the greatest reasons that we see a perceived fall in public schools across the United States.
Teachers are doing a far greater job of educating their students today than they ever have been. However, the time spent teaching the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic has been significantly decreased due to increased demands and responsibilities to teach many things that used to be taught at home.
Anytime new instructional requirements are added, time spent on something else is taken away. The time spent in school has rarely increased, yet the burden has fallen to schools to add courses such as sex education and personal financial literacy into their daily schedule without adding time to do so. Schools have been forced to sacrifice critical time in the core subjects to make sure that their students are being exposed to these other areas.