Today, much attention is paid to the promotion of different types of education for students around the whole world. American students, as well as the representatives of other nations, are able to choose their secondary and postsecondary education regarding their personal interests, social statuses, and other important factors. Postsecondary or higher education includes education in colleges and universities and governed by several federal laws to make sure that any person, regardless of their disabilities or benefits, can enter the desired public institution. Education of people plays a significant role in the development of the new global economy, meeting quality demands and competitive environments (Kariwo, Gounko, & Nungu, 2014).
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To stay competitive and effective, the representatives of American postsecondary education facilities have to understand and take the required performance-oriented reforms (Conner & Rabovsky, 2011). Despite the fact that US higher education continues receiving considerable scrutiny from the government over the past 20 years, the importance of postsecondary reforms cannot be ignored because they serve Americans and define their future in the global arena.
Objectives of Higher Education Reform Efforts in the United States
Until the end of the 20th century, US education was based on the ideas of civil rights, racial segregation, and promotion of freedom. At the beginning of the 1990s, the United States, as well as many other countries, approved the method of outcome-based education (OBE) in different forms. In America, it was the creation of the National Education Goals, also known as Goals 2000, according to which every child was ready to learn, every American had to be literate, and every school promoted the social and emotional growth of students.
In fact, such achievement as the creation of OBE and Goals 2000 defines the objectives of recent higher education reforms. Despite the overall expectations that the main goal of the efforts to reform US higher education is to prepare students for life, nowadays, the primary goal of all these efforts is to change higher education so it can serve Americans in its best way, promoting core knowledge, developing strengths, celebrating creativity and individualism, removing social gaps, and cultivating the sense of patriotism.
However, the outcomes of many reform efforts demonstrate that the US government and other organizations and people involved in policymaking are able to add a number of other goals to American education. For example, during the last 20 years, reform efforts resulted in a considerable increase in cost for a college education that made it impossible or, at least, hard-to-achieve, to receive higher education (Conner & Rabovsky, 2011).
In 2001, the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) was introduced as one of the most successful education reform efforts to improve personal outcomes in public education. In 2002, an attempt to evaluate funding methods was made through the Education Sciences Reform Act. In fact, the impact of the NCLB was observed in many other reform efforts taken by the US government in order to underline the necessity of math, reading, and science courses. All these steps and efforts help to close the existing gaps between Americans and create similar opportunities for all nations to contribute to the economic, political, and social development of the country.
Criticism of Recent Reform Efforts
Taking into consideration all positive and negative aspects of reform efforts in US higher education, it is wrong to avoid the fact that many people continue criticizing governmental steps for changing education. People fail to observe improvements and pay their attention to what they can see and experience, meaning high tuition costs and consideration of postsecondary education not as a fundamental right of people, but a list of statutes to fill the gap in governmental affairs like the one with the Higher Education Act (HEA) (Johnson, 2014). Certain efforts were made to improve the financial situation of American students.
However, the investigation of Conner and Rabovsky (2011) shows that not all universities received equal financial support from the state after being proved as autonomous. Low completion rates are still observed in many states because many students find it necessary to work and cover education expenses in their families (Shireman, 2009). Although teachers and other academic workers are ready to assist students and provide them with the best opportunities, not all of them are ready to accept everything due to a number of social and emotional responsibilities.
At the same time, there are several important aspects that should be used to prove that recent reform efforts can be praised by the American population. Over the last 20 years, differences between students have become less noticeable. Financial aid has significantly increased, promoting the increase of matriculation (Shireman, 2009). In other words, many colleges and universities become able to open their doors to students regardless of their race, background, and family incomes.
In 2007, Congress made a decision to reauthorize the HEA, and affordability became a driving factor in legislation because many concerns about the trust and worth of colleges were raised (Morgan, 2009). Still, the reasons to be proud of the government’s attempts to change the education system cannot be ignored. Americans have gained new opportunities in education, recognizing their skills, interests, and potential fields of their future work.
Future of Higher Education Reforms in the United States
Recent attempts to improve higher education in the country are characterized by a number of strong steps, as well as doubtful decisions. Still, there is always someplace for improvement, and the future of postsecondary education reform efforts may be considerably improved in case the government tries to recognize the needs of the population through direct communication with people. It is not enough to shape the environment and answer the questions that bother people, but necessary to understand the nature of college and university education and consider academic sensibilities (Neary & Thody, 2009).
It is expected that reforms, as usual, focus on the improvement of the current system of education from the point of view of its consumers, meaning students and their families. However, to be successful and working, these efforts have to include the demands and expectations of all workers, including teachers, tutors, researchers, and other representatives of the education field.
In general, in the future, the government and other stakeholders, and policymakers have to stop taking reform efforts that involve teacher performance, student choice, school governance, or choices. It is high time for American education to stand above all those reforms and concentrate on the delivery of products that are necessary for students and the academic staff. The future is the promotion of space, time, and abilities. Efforts should demonstrate the results that please all participants of an education process and promote the prosperity of the country.
Conner, T. W., & Rabovsky, T. M. (2011). Accountability, affordability, access: A review of the recent trends in higher education policy research. Policy Studies Journal, 39(1), 93-112.
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Johnson, T. L. (2014). Going back to the drawing board: Re-entrenching the higher education act to restore its historical policy of access. University of Toledo Law Review, 45(3), 545-578.
Kariwo, M., Gounko, T., & Nungu, M. (Eds.). (2014). A comparative analysis of higher education systems: Issues, challenges and dilemmas. Rotterdam, the Netherlands: Sense Publishers.
Morgan, J. M. (2009). Consumer-driven reform of higher education: A critical look at new amendments to the higher education act. Journal of Law and Policy, 17(2), 531-578.
Neary, M., & Thody, A. (2009). Learning landscapes: Designing a classroom of the future. In L. Bell, M. Neary, & H. Stevenson (Eds.), The future of higher education: Policy, pedagogy and the student experience (pp. 30-41). London, England: Continuum.
Shireman, R. (2009). College affordability and student success. Change, 41, 54-56.