Ten Variables Affecting Education Quality
It has been posited that the impact that ten key variables have had on the qualify of education around the world and in the US is proportioned as follows:
|-10%--Students per classroom.|
|-15%--Cost of education.|
|10%--Single sex classrooms.|
|15%--Personal Savings Rates.|
|25%--Sex of the teacher.|
|30%--Prayer in school. |
Please advise asap if you believe there are any additional significant variables which should be added to this list.
The TIMSS Executive Summary at http://nces.ed.gov/TIMSS/97198-2.html provides excellent guidance in our search for the root problem. It infers that teachers' lives, teaching methodology, ability grouping, out-of-school math and science study, and TV viewing are of little to no significance to education quality. It infers that content of U.S. eighth-grade mathematics classes, US teachers' familiarity with reform recommendations, and practical training and daily support of US teachers may be directly associated to the problem.
Chapter 7 at http://nces.ed.gov/TIMSS/97198-7.html infers that diversity, drug use, school violence, shortages of demonstration and instructional equipment, a wide range of academic abilities of students, language spoken by students, and on-the-job training teachers receive are of little to no significance to education quality. It infers that informal opportunities for teachers to learn from each other, discipline, theft may be directly associated to the problem. It infers that higher degrees earned by teachers and the number of female teachers may be inversely associated to the problem (i.e., the more MS degrees held by teachers and/or the more female teachers, the lower the TIMSS test scores):
The typical teacher of U.S. eighth-grade math and science students was a woman in her forties, with about 15 years of prior teaching experience. Forties was the norm for most of the other TIMSS countries. The typical teacher of German students was a man nearly fifty, who had been teaching for about 19 years; and the typical teacher of Japanese students was a man in his late thirties, who had been teaching for 14 years.
|Students per Classroom|
Contrary to popular belief, both the US data and the international data show an inverse relationship between the number of students per classroom and math skills--the more students per classroom, the higher the TIMSS and SAT scores. This is not to say that the solution is as simple as doubling the number of students in American class rooms. It only suggests that it is possible and maybe even desirable to do so, but that, concurrently, other factors need to be examined even more closely.
|Cost of Education|
As with the number of students per classroom, both the national and international data defies the popular belief that increasing spending for education will improve education quality. The data shows that exactly the opposite is the case--the lower the cost of education the higher the TIMSS and SAT scores, or conversely the higher the math skills of students the less it costs to educate them.
The fact that two countries which score significantly higher on TIMSS than the US (Japan and Germany) also report a high rate of TV viewing suggests that this is not as significant a factor as is commonly believed.
The combination of TV advertising and dress fashions in the US, the distraction that dress fashions and make up have in US classrooms, and the absence of this problem in countries which have both significantly higher TIMSS scores and school uniforms (Japan, Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong) all suggest that this is a factor which should have been included in the TIMSS.
|Single Sex Classrooms|
There is abundant evidence in the US, as well as internationally, that both boys and girls benefit significantly from class rooms which exclude distractions from the opposite sex, suggesting that this is a factor which should have been included in the TIMSS.
|Personal Savings Rates|
The highest correlation is seen between TIMSS scores and savings rates of nations, presumably reflecting that better math skills of a nation's students encourage and/or enable higher rates of saving. The fact that the US Personal Savings rate has gone negative for the first time in our nation's history at the same time that countries like Japan have little public debt and an average 34% gross savings rate would probably be of more concern to to American's with math skills which were 98 SAT points higher.
The relationship between rising crime, violence, divorce, incarceration rates and increasing family breakdown is well documented. The role the education system plays in this is evident but not as well documented.
The TIMSS report's biggest failing is its omission of this obvious and extremely important factor in the education of our nation's children. This might be explained by the fact that 800,000 Signatories to the Fathers' Manifesto have asserted that the US education system has seriously adversely impacted family stability itself. Even though it would be impossible to significantly improve the US education system without first correcting that, the process cannot even begin until our nation's children learn in this nation's schools the importance to society of the stability of the family unit.
|Sex of the Teacher|
Numerous data points suggest that there is a direct correlation between the percent of teachers who are males and TIMSS scores. In the G-7 Countries TIMSS scores increase 2 points for each 1% increase in the percent of teachers who are males. In the European Countries TIMSS scores increase 2 points for each 1% increase in the percent of teachers who are males. In all of the countries who participated in TIMSS scores increase 4 points for each 1% increase in the percent of teachers who are males. The correlation is closer when the percent of *math* teachers who are males are compared to TIMSS scores. Since 1960 in the US, SAT scores decreased 16 points for each 1% decrease in the percent of US teachers who are males. This factor should have been stressed much more in TIMSS.
|Prayer in School|
Prayer in school was banned in 1961, SAT scores began a persistent decline, and are now 98 points lower than they were when prayer in school was legal and widely practiced. Many of those countries with 100+ higher TIMSS scores pray in school 2-3 times per day.