Is School Too Easy?


Dr. Christopher A. Koch, Illinois State Superintendent of Education

Ulrich Boser, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, Co-author of CAP study

Host: Craig Cohen

We often wring our hands over failing schools, and worry about drop-out rates, and students who just can't catch up. But public policy does not as often focus on those students who excel, and seek stronger academic engagement. According to a recent report released by the Center for American Progress, student surveys conducted over the last three years by the Department of Education’s National Assessment of Education Progress indicates school may, in fact, be too easy for a lot of students. Among the findings:

•37% of 4th graders say their math work is "often" or "always" too easy;
•57% of 8th graders say their history work is "often" or "always" too easy;
•39% of 12th graders say they rarely write about what they read in class.

Is it possible that, after years of aggressive efforts to push for standardized testing in public schools, we’ve created an environment of “teaching to the test” that has resulted in some students simply not being challenged? How does classwork today compare to 10, 20 or 30 years ago? And what about “grade inflation?” What message do we send to students who can earn GPA greater than 4 on a 4 point scale? In short, is school, for some, truly, just too easy?