Education Determinants Affecting the Nation's Economy02/17

Below you will find an assembly of education determinants predisposed to perpetuating the estimated $8.8 trillion costs of the economic variables affecting the nation’s economy.

Algebra I

Algebra I is an unequaled education determinant predisposed to affecting students at-risk of not graduating from high school.

At-risk students find Algebra I’s abstract terms such as exponents, radicals, integers, para-metrics, etc., to be onerous. Moreover, they find Algebra I’s course content to be irrelevant to vocational-trade careers and every-day living. Yet, students generally are required to take Algebra I in the 9th grade. Unfortunately, the failure rate for this problematic course is extremely high. And when at-risk students experience failure in their first year of high school, they become discouraged and susceptible to becoming a dropout/non-graduate statistic. In fact, 85-95 percent of the students who fail Algebra I do not graduate from high school!

In spite of Algebra I’s high failure rate, proponents of this troublesome course still believe the “rigor” of studying Algebra I trains the mind to think and, thereby, enhance the learning of other subject matter (transfer of learning theory). Their assumption is erroneous, because the classic transfer-of-learning experiments conducted by Edwin L. Thorndike, William James, and Charles Judd have affirmed the following postulate: unless there is an identical sameness between the elements of two different learning situations, transfer of learning does not take place. Therefore, although learning identical elements in Algebra I may transfer to calculus, trigonometry, physics, and other STEM courses – algebraic terms do not transfer to courses of study in social studies, language arts, humanities, etc. Moreover, learning Algebra I does not necessarily transfer thinking power to students preparing for careers in sales, social work, first arrivals, non-math teachers or other non-STEM careers. Algebra I, however, is an essential course for STEM-career students. Incidentally, proponents of teaching the “classics,” need to review Thorndike’s Transfer of Identical Elements Theory and rethink the irrelevancy of trying to train the mind!

Education Initiative: Make Algebra I an elective course. This mandate will allow at-risk students to opt-out of this discriminating course and enroll in a “Consumer Math” course featuring interest rates, credit cards, loans, mortgages, bank accounts and other relevant financial transactions. Ultimately, initiating an elective Algebra I mandate promises to reduce dropout/non-graduation rates and attenuate the resultant $157 billion cost to the national economy. Moreover, it will make Algebra1classes more homogenous, so math teachers may be course specific in addressing STEM-career students’ advanced mathematic needs.


Truancy is an educational determinant predisposed to affecting students at-risk of not graduating from high school.

Truancy rates for New York public schools has been estimated to be 20 percent, while in California’s schools, the estimated rate is reported to be 30 percent. Truancy rates from other states are not available. It seems schools are reluctant to report accurate truancy rates because divulging high rates proportionally reduces school funding. This suggests schools throughout the nation may also have troublesome truancy rates. Unfortunately, when students are not in school by virtue of being truant, they are not learning the skills needed to contribute to the nation’s economy and well-being. Moreover, they are most susceptible to high-risk counter-cultures practicing flawed act of behavior such as tobacco usage, alcohol excess, juvenile delinquency, school vandalism, unhealthy lifestyles, etc.

The juvenile courts have tried to reduce school truancy by threatening parents with $200 to $500 fines or community service. However, the parents have ignored the court’s robot-phone calls, and the number of truancy cases processed by the juvenile courts actually increased a staggering 67 percent – raising national truancy rates to an estimated 25 percent. Moreover, in some 2,000 identified inner-city, poverty-driven, high school “dropout factories,” truancy rates were reported to be as high as 63 percent.

Education Initiative: A more effective way to attenuate high school truancy rates is to re-establish the home-room teacher concept, where a teacher stays with a designated group of home room students throughout the four years of high school. In this approach, the teacher is aware of each student’s daily attendance records, academic progress, and behavioral characteristic, and can intervene before truancies are allowed to evolve. This initiative promises to reduce the nation’s truancy rate which will reduce the nation’s high school dropout/non-graduation rate and thereby attenuate the financial burden on the nation’s economy.

Pre-School Disadvantaged Home Life

Pre-school disadvantaged home life is another education determinant predisposed to affect students at risk of not graduating from high school.

Many pre-school children come from disadvantaged homes, e.g., limited-education parents, foreign-language speaking parents, sedentary-obese parents, poverty-stricken parents, homeless parents, drug-using parents, abusive parents…. Consequently, these children may not have had the reading, communication and confidence building experiences needed to prepare them to enter kindergarten.

Education Initiative: Below you will find two double-blind studies making plain that initiating an “effective” pre-school experience is statistically significant in remediating any learning deficiencies found in disadvantaged children before they enter kindergarten.

A Michigan public school-readiness study for children entering kindergarten reported students experienced a statistically significant increase in the following Pre-K learning skills: 14 percent in vocabulary growth, 63 percent in print awareness and 64 percent in early math growth (2005). Teachers in this program had a B.S. in early childhood education. The student to teacher ratio was 8:1. And class size was limited to 18 students.

The High Scope Perry Pre-School study (2002) reported the long-term effects of a one-year pre-school learning experience on a group of four-year-old at-risk students. The children were retested at ages 14 and 19. They retained a statistically significant increase in their academic achievement scores, specific literacy scores and comparative high school graduation rates. An economic cost-benefit analysis in this study revealed – every dollar spent on this one-year pre-school learning experience saved $7.16 in tax dollars. So, any investment in the nation’s pre-school initiatives should help attenuate the annual $157 billion burden high school dropout/non-graduates are imposing on the nation’s economy.


Grades are an education determinant predisposed to creating an undesirable classroom learning environment.

Grades are traditionally put forth by teachers – supposedly to measure student learning. However, issuing a letter or numerical grade becomes little more than a subjective judgement. Consequently, teachers have a hard time explaining to students and parents why they gave a lower than expected grade.

Education Initiative: Abolish problematic letter or numerical grades and initiate student learning portfolios. Learning portfolios are rich and purposeful learning determinants predisposed to providing an opportunity for students to fulfill their natural desire to learn. They also serve as a meaningful alternative to letter or numerical grades.

The portfolio process involves students voluntarily researching, preparing, recording and submitting one-page, self-directed write-ups to their teacher for constructive feedback. For example, students may report on a colorful documentary shown and discussed in class, or an historical documentary viewed on home T.V. or even make their own documentary videos. Or they may submit a written commentary regarding a guest lecturer or an interesting story appearing in the news media. Or they may comment on an engrossing discussion they have had with friends, family or classmates. Or they may critique a book or tell of a volunteer experience or an honor they received. Or they may describe a hobby they pursue or an athletic or artistic performance they completed. Or they may share a virtuous act of conduct they performed or observed. Or they may report on a controversial subject suggested by their teacher to be debated in class.

Note: Composing portfolios provides a student an opportunity to master the skill of writing – the foundation of English grammar, spelling, syntax and storytelling. To facilitate this learning process, students will need a dictionary, thesaurus and a spelling guide.

Teachers will return the student reports with positive feedback. They will encircle grammatical misusage and make positive suggestions regarding syntax, vocabulary choices, clarity and creativity. Students will review teacher’s feedback and make corrections accordingly. Subsequently, students will insert these reports in their portfolios for reflection and future reference needs.

Teachers will arrange for each student to make a 5-minute class presentation of a select report. Teachers will follow-up with a complimentary commentary. Teachers will use portfolio write-ups for meaningful assessment of a student’s learning experiences in writing, reading, vocabulary and speaking – the foundation for all learning experiences. Teachers should not use subjective letter or numerical grades for assessment purposes because they are reported to be counterproductive to neurological and behavioral principles of effective learning. Rather, teachers should use student portfolios – a more meaningful assessment of student learning progressions.

Students will keep their portfolios updated and include collections of special awards, honors or accomplishments. They will showcase their portfolios to family, friends and future employers. Portfolios offer an effective strategy to embolden self-directed learning, provide encouraging feedback and inspire the pursuit of long-term learning.

Individual-Centered Schools

An individual-centered school is an education determinant predisposed to acknowledging students have distinctly different learning dispositions.

In this regard, an individual-centered school recognizes Morgan’s Multiple Intelligences Theory (1993) which proposes students are endowed with characteristically different learning aptitudes: visual/spatial; verbal/linguistic; math/logical; and inter/intra-personal. An individual-centered school also acknowledges that pre-school children have been raised in varying home cultures, such as, professionally educated parents, trade-working parents, foreign language speaking parents, sedentary-obese parents, poverty-stricken parents, homeless parents, drug-using parents, immoral parents or abusive parents — and structures learning environments accordingly.

An individual-centered high school offers students an opportunity to choose among three different career pathways: college-bound STEM-focused careers; college-bound non-STEM focused careers; and vocational-trade bound careers. It also offers an appropriate assembly of elective courses to meet the academic requirements for each of these three respective career pathways. Finally, an individual-centered school does not compare or rank student learning achievements. Rather, it evaluates student learning on an individual basis, and it makes sure no students become disengaged, fall behind or lose hope.

Education Initiative: Non-individual-centered schools that do not recognize students are endowed with specifically different learning aptitudes or appreciate that students may come from dramatically different home-life cultures or offer courses of study specific to student interests need to be changed to sound individual-centered schools.


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