I am a firm believer that we need to drastically reform our education system in America. In my system we would have five grades of elementary school and five grades of high school. At the end of fifth grade all students would be tested for mental functioning and educational subject attainment, and those who would not be capable of progressing to a college prep track would be sent to a vocational high school where they would be prepared to work in hundreds of fields of employment that do not require deep thinking or a college degree.
Those who had the capacity for college education would go on to a college prep high school where they would receive the same education that we try to teach them now-a-days in 12 grades. After high school we would use the local junior college system for two years to fine tune the students who could still be living at home for the type of college education that they wished to pursue. From there, they would go on to actual college.
Why this two track system? Simple the present system is holding back the top achievers and medium high achievers from a prompt quality education. In our inner cities, the smarter kids are being victimized by the stupid ones. We have high schools in our Big Cities that are graduating students who really do not know how to read above a third grade level if they can read at all. I have heard a great many teachers complain that we have dumbed down our educational system in order to allow dumb kids to graduate. The falling SAT scores would seem to substantiate that as a sad reality in our society.
That is not the fault of the teachers, as the students have an average IQ below 90 and are defiant against quality education because they feel embarrassed in the classroom. In many cases if you put them in learning tracks with other poor performing students there are accusations of racism because most of the low learning track students are minorities (Black and Hispanic). Because of their alienation from education they do not even get a fifth grade understanding of the subjects and they actually interfere with the education of those similar lower IQ students who are motivated to learn. So the prudent solution is to send them to a vocational school where they can learn a skill that will help them provide an income for the rest of their lives.
Pretending that all students are capable of college level work is silly and extremely wasteful of taxpayers’ dollars. We could save a lot of money by only educating kids for college who are capable of benefiting from a college education. We could take some of that saved money and put it into building quality vocational schools.
The natural question arises, but what if a kid just did poorly on the battery of tests that determine which type of high school they could go to? The answer is simple, if the parent's ask, they can be tested a second time, and given an opportunity to cross over from the vocational school to college prep school for the first two years of their educational progression. If they have not proven that they can read at a fifth grade level and do math at a fifth grade level by seventh grade it is time to admit the obvious, "They are just not college prep material." Conversely, if a student in the college prep track can not keep up with the curriculum, that student can be placed in a vocational school if the parents or guardians ask.
We should not be trying to push a square peg into a round hole. It is fairly simple, if they do not fit, find the right placement for them and educate them accordingly.