Colleges and universities are the places where students get an opportunity to test their skills and areas of interests, identify what may fascinate them, and find what passion can guide their lives. Current reform efforts in the United States have a significant impact on students, teachers, and American families (Shireman, 2009). In addition to the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act as one of the most critical reforms in the American education system, the US government takes steps to control the costs people have to spend on education, to develop new programs with financial aid for different students, and to investigate the conditions under which learning processes have to be organized.
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However, because of such processes as globalization, industrialization, and internationalization of higher education, universities, colleges, and high schools have to evaluate their academic environments and develop new implications in terms of which all stakeholders can gain benefits (Kariwo, Gounko, & Nungu, 2014). Many teachers and higher education employees are challenged by a variety of tasks, a number of students, and their needs and demands, and the role of an educational leader cannot be ignored in working processes.
Implementation of a Higher Education Reform
Among the existing variety of higher education reform efforts, it is possible to identify the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) signed by President Barack Obama in 2015. This effort was made to replace the NCLB, modify the conditions under which students have to take standardized tests, and underline the role of the government in public education. Though the differences between the two acts are hardly recognized, some schools and colleges have to deal with the presence of choices, test design peculiarities, and assessment characteristics.
The essence of this act is to support one of the most crucial aspects of American life – to support equality and offer every child, regardless of their race, income, or location, a chance to improve their lives and be educated. Regarding the goals and effects of this educational reform, certain progress has already been achieved since the end of the 2000s. First, high school graduation rates have been increased. Second, high school dropout rates have been considerably decreased. Finally, many Hispanic and Black students have made their decision to continue their education in colleges and universities.
Results of an Interview with a Stakeholder
Nowadays, it is easy to find much information about the benefits and challenges caused by the implementation of the current reform efforts made in the United States. However, not all information can be defined as credible and actual because it is not always based on the opinions of stakeholders who have been directly impacted by the chosen reform. Therefore, to understand the merits and demerits of the ESSA, a decision to talk to the dean of one of the schools of business in the United States is made. This person shares her personal opinion and experience about their working conditions after the reform was implemented.
A number of positive and negative aspects are identified. On the one hand, such pros as the elimination of standardized tests and the promotion of flexibility for school improvement strategies were supported. Schools became more autonomous in their intentions to change something in regards to the needs of teachers and students but not in regards to the standards imposed by the government. In addition, the dead admits the possibility to increase parental involvement in schools so that they can obtain the necessary information about the progress of their children any time they want, as well as after direct communication with teachers.
On the other hand, the dean mentions that the limitation of the federal role in ensuring equality and equity decreases the number of students who define themselves as the representatives of local minorities. It is also not always possible to use local funds because of the necessity to wait and prove the urgency and appropriateness of such a decision. In other words, the ESSA makes teachers and administrators spend more time to prove their decisions instead of thinking of outcomes and support they can offer to students.
As a result of such changes and new requirements, many parents think that the quality of teaching is decreased and ask academic leaders to check the work of their employees. The dean gives several examples when parents address her with the request to explain why one student gets a chance to enter a local program, and another student has to wait sometime to be checked. However, these are not the only challenges leaders of business schools, as well as other academic facilities, may face because of the implementation of the ESSA. Students from different families and communities are welcome to visit the schools they choose.
They do not need to get approval, prove their location, or demonstrate their rights. Teachers are ready to teach all children. The main problem is that not all students are ready to be taught by certain teachers or be in the same classrooms with particular students. In other words, if the dean is able to control the behaviors and decisions of teachers, it is harder to control the same emotions and prejudice among students.
To be a good leader in an academic facility means to define social problems, recognize emotional needs, and offer appropriate solutions, respective the rights of both teachers and students. The implementation of the reform does not touch only on the results of the tests. This reform shapes human behaviors and moral norms. If adult teachers are able to comprehend their duties and responsibilities, young students are not always ready to follow these standards but can demonstrate their negative attitudes and concerns.
Future Educational Leaders about the Idea behind the Reform Effort
To conclude, it is necessary to admit that it is not an easy task for a good and fair leader regarding the effects of current reform efforts in the US system of education. It is expected that leaders know the answers to all questions and can find a solution to any problem that may bother a student, a parent, a teacher, or other employees. The outcomes of the ESSA are usually defined as positive because they promote freedoms and reduce obligations.
However, when specific standards lost their power, people have to be ready for inequalities and exceptions that can appear in a short period of time. Higher education reform efforts may vary, as well as people’s reactions to these changes. Sometimes, it is easy for leaders to predict and deal with human emotions. Sometimes, more work and explanations are required. However, any educational leader has to identify their role in a working process to become a good example for everyone around, guide those who are in need and use the legislation as the best evidence of success.
Kariwo, M., Gounko, T., & Nungu, M. (Eds.). (2014). A comparative analysis of higher education systems: Issues, challenges and dilemmas. Rotterdam, the Netherlands: Sense Publishers.
Shireman, R. (2009). College affordability and student success. Change, 41, 54-56.