math equation

Why Singaporean Students are So Good at Math

Mathematics is notoriously difficult, more so than Biology or English. A lot of students around the world unfortunately struggle with and lose interest in learning the subject.

The Problem with Math

Part of the reason why many continue to avoid math is the pervasive belief that some people are just naturally not good at it. There are people who excel in literature and languages while others enjoy the sciences the most. Only a handful of the population are good with numbers.

That, of course, is not true. The ability to do math is a skill that can be learned and mastered through patience and hard work. It is not a talent that some people came into the world wielding. Those who are good with math sit down and try to understand the subject, not immediately give up and conclude that they just are not a numbers person.

Even American students are struggling. In the 2019 results of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), which tested the abilities of 15-year-olds in three core subjects — reading, science, and math — the United States lagged behind other countries. Its score in math landed on the 30th spot, well behind China and Singapore.

Singaporean Students Excel in Math

While the subject continues to pose challenges, Singaporean students are excelling in math. In the PISA ranking from the same year, Singapore ranked second among a total of 79 countries in all three subjects. Only China received a score much higher than the city-state.

Singapore has consistently ranked at the top of PISA since it was launched in 2000. Students are trained to perform with excellence across all subjects, including math, which makes the island a destination for students who want to receive a quality education.

Foreign students can enroll in a global international school in Singapore where they can be trained in math, as well as reading, science, and other subjects. The island has a different teaching approach, especially when it comes to math, which produces students who can go toe-to-toe with their peers around the world.

Building Blocks to Excellence

Singaporeans are not inherently good at math. Their high scores in every global competitiveness assessment are results of the education system which is unlike anything in the world.

Students in other countries are often exposed to different concepts and have to learn multiple skills with the goal of passing the exam at the end of a term. While the method has the appearance of mastery, it often is not the case. The students immediately forget the information they gained from a lesson as soon as they finish their tests.

Singaporeans, however, approach it differently. Students build knowledge grade per grade, starting in primary school. This way, they get a deeper understanding of a subject which they carry into adulthood, and until they enter the workforce. Students do not just memorize whichever they need to get a good grade; they perform well because they fully comprehend the subject.

Singaporean student

Visualization is an Important Learning Tool

Around the world, the Singapore method of teaching math is highly regarded because it is very effective. It is a different approach to learning math. Instead of a teacher discussing how to solve a problem on the board, students are invited to take part in the process. There is a strong emphasis on visualization of the lesson, transforming a concept into reality.

For example, when a teacher wants to discuss division, they do not tell the student a step-by-step guide on how to do it. They present a tangible scenario, transforming a word problem into a visual problem so that students can see it in action. As a result, students are more engaged. They gain a better understanding of the lesson which lasts longer in their consciousness compared to if they memorized instructions and terms.

Approaching a Challenge

Singapore does not reward talent. The nation values hard work.

This raised an entire population that does not simply give up when faced with a tough challenge. They use the knowledge they gained from previous experiences and apply it to the situation, allowing them to figure out the solution on their own.

Singaporean students are highly-inquisitive. They readily explore a concept that they do not understand and dig around for information that will help them better learn about the topic at hand. They are very goal-driven individuals who will persist to complete their tasks.

Singapore has seemingly found the antidote against the phobia of math which many students from around the world suffer from. Other nations have plenty to learn from the city-state when it comes to teaching students difficult subjects.



Getting Your First Car: Here’s What You Need To Do

Buying your first car is an exciting time. However, before you meet with your car dealer and book for your test drive, there are things that you need to take care of first.

Getting your first car, whether new or used, can be daunting and overwhelming. With research and doing the needed preparations, you avoid making wrong decisions and costly mistakes. You would not want to end up with a car too small or too big for your needs. You also would not want to settle with a car loan with high-interest rates or a dealership that offers poor services, whether you or your parents are paying for it. But mostly, you would not want to be a potential hazard on the road.

Like with any major purchase, buying your first car entails many prerequisites on your end. There is no room for impulse buying when it comes to cars. Getting your first car will always be special so keep it that way by making it a successful venture.

Get your learner’s permit.

Driving your own car with poor driving skills can be disastrous for you and everyone around you. Be sure to know the basics of driving and get your license first before considering getting your own car. You wouldn’t want to use your new car as a practice vehicle.

Some states require you to take a driver’s education course. Some don’t. The courses needed for each state also differ. For instance, in the state of Florida, you must complete the four-hour Traffic Law and Substance Abuse Education Course or the Florida DMV TLSAE course before you can get a learner’s license. This course teaches beginner drivers about the effects of certain substances on your ability to drive, state laws, and safe driving techniques, among many others. This course is being offered online for your safety and convenience.

After taking the course, you need to complete the DMV Road and Sign Test, pass a vision and hearing test, and submit a parental consent form to get your learner’s permit. You must also be at least fifteen years old to get a learner’s permit.

Once you have obtained your learner’s permit, you can now practice your actual driving skills.

Brush up on your driving skills.

What you can do with a learner’s permit may vary depending on where you live. You can only drive a vehicle in Florida if an adult accompanies you with a valid driver’s license and only between 6:00 AM to 10:00 PM for the first three months after you get your learner’s permit.


If you want to get your intermediate license, you need to check your state’s specific requirements. Generally, you should be at least 16 years old, must have a learner’s permit, and you must have completed a specific number of hours of behind-the-wheel training. In Florida, you need at least 50 hours of driving, ten hours of which must be driving at nighttime. It must be certified by your parents or a legal guardian.

You must also have no driving tickets or violations within a year. Once you meet these requirements, you need to take a driving test at the DMV.

Know the type of car that you need.

An SUV may look cool, but if you’re single, then getting one may not be practical. You will just be paying for extra space and extra fuel for nothing.

If it’s just you and you will mostly be driving within the city, then a subcompact may be enough for your needs. But if you will be driving with your family, or you will always be carrying cargo, then a bigger vehicle may be right for you.

Another thing to consider is whether you will buy a brand-new or used car. Buying brand-new may be more expensive, but it has its own perks. A brand-new car comes with a warranty for a certain period to cover certain defects and problems that you may encounter. You also do not need to worry about wear and tear. However, buying brand-new means that you have to pay for its depreciation.

Buying second-hand can be less costly, but it also comes with its own set of demands. You need to pay more attention during your test drive for potential issues. You have to ensure that everything is working, from its electronics to the simplest controls, such as its wipers or the locks of the doors. During the test drive, you must also be perceptive to strange noises that may indicate serious problems.

Once you have chosen your car type and model, do your research. Read car reviews and forums, and look for issues that current users have experienced. It is also a good time to get to know how to operate the car that you want.

Prepare your parking space.

If you have a yard, then prepare a driveway or garage for your car. If you don’t, you need to know where you will park. Depending on where you live, you may need to purchase or rent a parking space. You can also street-park if it is allowed in your area. Be sure to study the parking laws so that you won’t have problems.

Now that you have things settled, it is time to look for a dealership and schedule a test drive. Research about dealerships near you and read reviews about them. Look them up on the Internet first, or you can also check with friends. Before you show up at a dealership, try to get a quote first through e-mail and make sure that the car model you want is available and that they offer a test drive.

What Is the Best Age to Send a Child to School?

Parents face plenty of critical decisions to make on behalf of the child. One of the most important ones is when to send their kids to school. Should they begin early or wait until they’re about 5 to 7 years old?

Compulsory School Age

To answer the question, parents need to know about compulsory education. It covers the minimum age that a child should already go to school. The numbers can vary between states.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the compulsory school age in Alaska is 7 years old. However, in Utah, parents need to send their kids to a childcare facility when they turn 6 years old. Children may also enter kindergarten if they turn 5 years old before September 2.

Some states, like Arkansas, Maryland, and Delaware, and DC also require mandatory school attendance. Other places such as Utah don’t follow such a rule. But a parent may face a minor misdemeanor charge if the child is absent often.

Should You Wait Then?

teacher with students

Some studies also suggest that parents should consider waiting longer to send their kids to school. In a Stanford University study, children who began kindergarten at 6 instead of 5 years old seemed to have better self-control when they reached 7 and 11 years old. In particular, this group scored 73% better in inattention and hyperactivity.

Meanwhile, researchers categorized self-control as an executive function and an essential child trait. Because of this, kids learn how to stay focused. When they are less distracted in school, they are more likely to absorb their lessons.

It doesn’t mean, though, that children don’t get the benefits of schooling if they start early. Take, for example, socialization.

Unknown to many, humans learn to socialize shortly after birth. Consider a child responding to their parents’ funny faces or trying to communicate with them through monosyllables.

Although socialization is a lifelong process, it starts early. And one of the most crucial years is early childhood. During this period, the child develops secondary socialization. Places like school help hone their core personality and train them to act or behave as part of a larger group, culture, or society.

Further, a 2019 study by the University of British Columbia revealed that social play in kindergarten could improve academics. When the school’s curriculum for early childhood education involved hands-on learning and exploration, the kids also enhanced their self-control and attention regulation skills.

The benefits also extend to the teachers, who are less likely to experience burnout since they are having fun interactions with the students.

So when is the best time for a parent to send their kids to school? Childhood education should be non-negotiable once the child reaches the minimum school-age of the state. Otherwise, this option depends on their goals.

For instance, sending them early could improve a child’s social skills, while play-based learning could later promote self-control, attention regulation, and academic performance. However, parents should keep in mind that kids may only enjoy these benefits if they find a facility with a curriculum fit for their ages and needs.

students in class

Private vs. Public: Where Should You Enroll Your Teenagers?

Salt Lake City is one of the best places to live in Utah and start a family. It’s a modern city, and there are plenty of dynamic highschools worth looking into if you have a teen or a pre-teen.

But, people have been debating for so long which is better: private or public schools. There are a few distinct differences. But, is it true that your child will get a better education from one or the other? Or that they will have a better attitude when attending a particular school?

How Does One Differ from the Other?

The most significant difference between them is money.

Public schools are typically the perfect choice for families on a budget. The government funds these institutions, and they can’t charge tuition from the students. The downside is they are often underfunded— which has a direct impact on low-wealth areas, especially; thus, on the students who need it the most.

Additionally, public schools can be significantly influenced by politics. They often have to follow the regulations that are set by politicians.

On the other hand, private schools have their own funding from various sources, primarily the tuition you’ll have to pay. Aside from that, they are free to have fundraising activities that tap the students, parents, alumni, and community members.

But, private school tuition fees can be exorbitant.

Is the Level of Education the Same?

students at the hallway

Here’s where the debate usually starts: is the level of education the same for private and public schools?

Yes and no.

Private and public schools teach the same thing to their students. They cover the same subjects. Both are likewise free to provide a flexible curriculum that can help their students.

Then again, private schools have better funding and can have more flexibility when it comes to their curriculum. However, they don’t necessarily hire certified teachers, often choosing to look at areas of skill other than certification. But, private schools often have higher results in standardized tests.

In public schools, the underfunding of certain departments can hinder the students’ learning. The bigger class size may also make it harder for some students to catch up or pay attention. Teachers, on the other hand, also have a harder time monitoring each and every student, especially during class.

The good thing is they guarantee that they hire certified teachers. It’s an advantage that can ensure the quality of education each student gets.

Bullying and Other Issues

Private schools tend to be more accepting of students from minority groups. They are also more prepared to combat bullying, which is prevalent in high schools. But, there can be undercurrents and more subtle forms of discrimination, especially in the area of finances and level of wealth.

Although private schools are known to be more accepting, public high schools are more diverse and can help to build strength of character in a young adult. But, bullying can be a problem. With the sheer number of students, some forms of bullying can’t be monitored and resolved.

What is the Better Choice?

Generally speaking, private and public schools both have their pros and cons. They serve the same purpose and provide the same level of education.

It all boils down to your choice—and, of course, the district in which you live.  Both types of high schools have their own sets of advantages and disadvantages. However, it’s not entirely true that one is better than the other. In the end, what you choose depends on a few factors, such as your budget and location, and, of course, your child’s personality.

exchange student girl having fun in town

For Expats: How to Help Your Kids Adjust and Feel at Home

Life as an international business consultant, trainer, lawyer or diplomat may be fun and exciting. You travel all over the world for work and in the process, get to see different countries and experience various cultures.

It is a constant vacation for many, but there are some who seek the permanence of being able to grow roots and develop lasting relationships. Children of expats often feel this way since they have to bounce around from school to school while their parents travel.

Finding a suitable international school for your children is a great option. This type of school has an internationally approved curriculum and hosts kids from different nationalities. The standards here are the same with international schools in other countries, which means that your children will be able to continue their studies with the least difficulty in case you need to transfer to another assignment.

International schools in Manila enjoy a healthy enrolment rate because of the location, areas of expertise and strong ties with the community. This just proves that there is more to choosing a school than just a good sounding name.

Ensure a Smooth Transition

Starting at a brand new school can be a huge challenge for any kid. Help make the academic transition as smooth as possible for your children. Take time to sit down with the school heads and administrators to get to know the house rules.

Get in touch with an expatriate like you who have stayed in the country and inquire for any advice in regards to the educational system of the place. Are there any first-hand experiences and setbacks you can learn from?

Think of What Your Children Will Like

Ask yourself what your children like about school. Alternatively, what are the factors that would cause them not to like the new school environment? This can be a great starting point in finding the right school. You are in the best position to assess what kind of environment your kids will thrive in.

exchange students with uniforms

If they are into sports like soccer, lacrosse or tennis, for instance, find one that has a strong athletics program. On the other hand, if your children are more into theatre and other forms of the arts, this should be what you focus on when you inquire.

Be Part of the School Community

Finding the right international school for expat children is also training for parents like you. Learn exactly how you can be a part of the community and be involved. Commit time to volunteer and make the school community a big part of your kid’s life.

You can also get acquainted with the other parents and make sure to be present in all the important school events, whether or not your children are involved. This will ensure that your time overseas will be more enriching and meaningful. It will also help your kids adjust much faster to the new country, culture and environment.

Besides these points, it will also help to have a look at the school curriculum and if it conforms to international standards. This will help you and your children in case you need to move to a different country for a new assignment. While moving is certainly not easy on kids, knowing that they can pick up from where they left off in terms of lessons and modules is a big advantage.

a teen looking at a broken mirror

What to Do When Your Tween Has Low Self-esteem

Sometimes, it’s hard to understand how your 4-year-old daughter who was so fond of beauty pageants, ballet recitals, and summer camps grew up to be this shy, aloof tween in middle school. Once, they were all about saying yes to new things and people; now, every opportunity is met with “I can’t do that” or “I will never fit in.” Believe it or not, this phenomenon is universal. Kids tend to have a healthy self-image in their early years, but as they progress into adolescence, they experience low self-esteem. This affects their academic performance, peer relationships, and family life.

Why Some Tweens Have Low Self-esteem

There are lots of reasons why a young person develops a negative view of themselves. For one, it can be a result of comparisons. Between ages 6 and 11, children become more aware of their differences from their friends. For sure, you’ve heard them saying that their classmate is way more beautiful than them or that their friend plays basketball better. This is normal behavior, but if the comparison keeps them from seeing their worth, that’s when it becomes a problem. When they reach their teen years, which is when lots of changes happen to their body, they might grow insecure about themselves.

Another reason why your child suffers from low self-esteem is that they think that people around them disapprove of them. They can be wrong, but that’s what they feel. Disapproval can take different forms. It can be you saying an offhanded remark when they failed to get into the soccer team. Or it can be their favorite teacher telling them that they’re disappointed by their math performance. When these things pile up, over time, it can result in lower self-esteem. And the closer they are to the person “frustrated” with them, the more they’re pushed into the pit of an unhealthy self-image.

How You Can Help Bring Back Confidence

smiling young woman

Although there are many reasons behind your child’s low self-esteem, there are many ways to restore it. Start with honest communication. Tell them that you notice that they’re going through something and ask if they want to talk about it. Never ask them what’s wrong. That’s only going to discourage them from opening up. Once they start talking, listen and don’t judge. Don’t invalidate their feelings, too. It seems petty to hear statements like “Olive is prettier than me” or “Leo always gets higher math grades,” but don’t ever belittle such sentiments. Instead, direct them to positive, unique things about them. Remind them of their worth.

It also helps to have them talk to a guidance counselor in school. Sometimes, when the issue is too personal, some kids don’t want to open up directly to their parents. They prefer strangers who have no attachment whatsoever to the problem. If you’re still on the search for your child’s middle school, consider sending them to elementary schools in Gilbert, Arizona. Doing so will help your child understand how God sees and values them. If you’re looking for hassle-free student application, try online enrollment.

Finally, if your child’s self-esteem comes from something negative that you’ve said intentionally or unintentionally, apologize. It doesn’t matter if it was a joke. What matters is that they’re hurt. So tell them you’re sorry. Ask them how you can make things better.

Overall, remember that your tween’s unhealthy self-image affects everything in their life. Don’t let them stay in this pit. Restore their confidence by always reminding them of their worth.

Child coloring a book

How Can You Tell If Your Child is Ready for Preschool?

As soon as you see your toddler begin to walk on their own or communicate in words and phrases, you might consider enrolling them in a preschool. Child development is important to nurture at an early age, but one of the critical things that you should consider is whether your child is ready for preschool. Determining if your child is ready to start preschool can be an anxiety-inducing process. As much as possible, you want to make sure that your child feels safe and comfortable in a new environment.

While most preschools accept children between two and four years old, educators also look into a child’s preschool readiness – whether the child’s is ready to make a transition into a preschool environment, including its routines and expectations. Thing is, certain building blocks or skills are necessary to develop preschool readiness, including language, sensory, social, and self-care skills. Establishment of these building blocks will help your child adjust easier, allowing them to make a smooth and successful transition into the preschool environment. You can identify whether your child is ready for preschool by considering these following factors.

Separation Anxiety

Child hugging his fatherIf your child is used to having you around every time they need you, then it might be difficult for them to be apart from you when the time comes that he starts going to school. They might feel distressed, anxious, or scared when they see you leave, causing them to throw a tantrum. Before your child starts preschool, try creating opportunities that will allow your child to be away from you. You can schedule a weekend with their grandparents or you can ask a babysitter or a relative to care for your child. Do this gradually, until your child starts to feel comfortable spending time away from you. However, if you can’t workout separations anxiety upfront and if your child cries during their first few days at school, don’t worry. Many preschools would allow parents to spend a few minutes in the classroom to help children calm down.

Self-Care Skills

While some schools are more lenient, there are preschools that will require children to exhibit independent behavior. This may include potty training, being able tie shoelaces, eating with utensils, or opening their own bags. Though children are not expected to fully master these skills at their age, being able to do these tasks will make the adjustment period less stressful.

Comfort with Routine

Preschools usually follow a predictable schedule. When the same things happen every day, children feel more comfortable and in control. It will help if you and your child establish a routine at home. Schedule time for reading, play, bath time, meal time and bedtime and stick to it.

Social Interaction

One of the activities preschool usually have is “circle time”, allowing students to learn and play together, sit still, and listen to stories. This can be difficult for children who are still more focused on exploring their surroundings or those who have short attention span. You can help prepare your child for such interactions by scheduling play dates or signing them up in a summer class so they can experience how its like playing with other children.

Before sending your child to preschool, it is important to look into these factors. Pushing your child to adjust in a new environment when he is not physically, emotionally, or socially ready might just make it a traumatizing experience for them, and in the end could only hinder their learning and development.

Male high school teacher

How High School Teachers Engage Students to Learn

It is a sad truth that some high school students do not feel inspired to learn in school. This leads to not only lowered achievements but also an overall disinterest in learning.

While there are lots of school strategies to motivate students to focus on their subjects, many high schools in progressive areas like Salt Lake City continue to look for ways to inspire and encourage students to become more engaged in learning. Here are some strategies that teachers and instructors apply to make a difference.

Giving Students Control

Sometimes, teachers become too attached to their manual and modules that they forget about the capabilities of their students. They hardly ever track each student’s learning progress because of the unending list of to-do’s.

Some students begin to lose interest in learning when they cannot cope and feel overwhelmed with lessons and schoolwork. Teachers can counter this by allowing students to track their own progress with simple lists to empower and motivate them. Students who are in control of their learning become more interested and feel more accountable to deliver.

Focusing on Short-Term Goals in the Classroom

High school students may not care much about long-term goals because the future is a long time away for them. Teachers can focus more on visible and easy-to-reach goals.

This can be incorporated into learning activities like using writing prompts for better writing, reading aloud activities for low ability students. Teachers and students can become more engaged when they pay attention to their present actions and activities.

Using Passive Learning for Disengaged Students

Relying on positive attitude for students to learn will not work for those who are not interested or are disengaged. Students will absorb knowledge better when they are exposed to it via oral language and listening.

One way to use this is through instructional videos on different subjects to build background knowledge. Reading aloud to some students is rarely done in secondary students, but it is actually a great strategy to engage students to listen and learn.

Using the Power of Imitation

Teachers can ask students to copy and imitate good examples that they see around them. It is not teaching them to cheat; rather, it is a passive way of internalizing basic and social skills. Help them to learn from one another so that they can improve.

Coaching and Mentoring

Female high school teacher and her student

Teachers are regarded as evaluators and judges of a student’s learning progress. To become their coach and mentor means that a student has a helping ally that will guide them to reach their goals.

Coaches and mentors will have tips to help the student excel, and if students trust their teachers as they believe their sports coaches, they will be more engaged in the learning process.

Student engagement is necessary for academic growth and development. Disinterested and disengaged high school students may be undergoing life changes that affect their ability to focus. Teachers can help students out by using strategies that will reverse disengagement and encourage them to love and own their learning.

Student answering an exam

Accepting Your Child’s Choice of College

The college dream starts as early as primary school for some. It’s usually fueled by their parents’ aspirations, especially if they graduated from a prestigious school and they want their child to attend when it’s time. Young hopefuls may also want to attend the same university that taught an influential person they admire. They may even get their first university merchandise as a Christmas gift as a sort of encouragement for their dream.

If that’s how it was for your child, they may have a hard time admitting that they had changed their mind. Maybe they’re considering a different, but equally prestigious university. Maybe they wanted to change their plans for their life. Whatever it is that changed their mind, you should show support unconditionally. Do the following to show them that you have their back:

Help Them Fill Out Their Application Forms

It’s normal for students to have a backup, so they will have other options should their original plan fails. However, if they’ve changed their heart and would prefer to go to a university known to compete with the one everyone expected them to attend, they may not have prepared to apply for it.

Now is your chance to show them your full support by preparing everything they need. You may even find a college admissions consultant to inquire about differences when it comes to the different universities. Each one may consider different values, so you should know how to apply in a way that sets your child apart from the thousands of other applicants.

Encourage Them to Talk Openly About Their Choice

Mother talking to her teenage daughterIt can be scary for your child to openly admit that they don’t want to go to the university everyone else in the family went to, but if they are sure of their choice, you should not make them regret it.

The choice of campus should not be enough to strain family ties, especially because no one knows whether they’ll get in. When they do get in, they will appreciate having the family congratulate them and being proud of their achievement. Remember that the choice of campus is not about prestige, it’s about getting into the academic institution that best fits your child’s interests.

Talk to the Family

It’s one thing to encourage an applicant to talk about their choice, but it’s even better to see everyone accepting the change openly. For family members who are deeply loyal to their university, they may feel betrayed or let down. They may even think that your child is choosing a different school just to spite the family name.

It’s your job as the parent to protect your already-stressed child from all the unnecessary drama over something that will benefit your child’s future. Everyone may have their opinions, but talk to them so they can express their feelings and not hurt or belittle your child in any way. The last thing you want is for your child to go through all the discussion with their relatives, and for it to stress them enough that they end up not getting into the university they want.

The choice of college is your child’s prerogative. Remind everyone that while their opinion is appreciated, this is not about them.

Public School System

The State of the Public School System

With the student debt crisis in full-swing in our country, and with faith in the public education system at an all-time low, it’s time we took a hard look at our public schools and see what’s going on, what we can do to improve it, and how we can make it beneficial for students again. With around 13,000 school districts spread across the country handling almost 100,000 public schools, it’s hard to paint with a broad brush with regards to how the entire system is holding up.

But even with the daunting challenge of analyzing and evaluating all those schools, many people have come to the harrowing conclusion that the Amercan Public Education System is at the brink of collapse. Critics cite the performance of public schools over the past 40 years, beginning with the “Back to Basics” program of the 70’s and all the way to 1983’s “A Nation at Risk”, critics of the education system state that public school performance has been on a downhill slope. However, with the introduction of the No Child Left Behind policy in 2001, a slight uptick in performance was observed and lauded, even by some of the education system’s harshest critics.

Despite the NCLB, views of the public school system’s future remain bleak. But is this because of real-time results, or the result of vitriolic rhetoric?

Losing Faith

In a 1976 poll by Gallup, 62% of people surveyed say that they had a “great deal” of confidence in the public school system. However, in under a decade, confidence level in the public school system dropped to 39%, and has not risen above 50% since 1987.

The confidence in public schools remained in the high 30’s and mid 40’s from 1999 to 2000. But by the first few years of the 21st century, confidence petered out and averaged in the low-to-mid 30’s. By 2007, one year before the Great Recession and a few years before the start of the student debt crisis, that figured dropped further. With the once-sterling no Child Left Behind Policy cracking under budget constraints and failures of implementation, people started losing faith in our public schools, and in essence, losing faith in students of those schools. By 2014, confidence rate was at an all-time low: only 26% of Americans had a “great deal” of confidence in the public school system, a far cry from the 62% it enjoyed 40 years ago.

public school

These numbers would be understandable if the quality of education in public schools actually did decline. In fact, for all intents and purposes, these confidence levels are a great indication of the American people’s outrage over the government’s failure to provide quality education to our nation’s youth. A decline in quality, therefore, should be the only reason for people to lose faith.

However, that wasn’t the case.

The Numbers

A comprehensive and standardizes testing system that measured student performance was not implemented until 2001. However, through the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, the federal government had been able to track and monitor student performance over 50 years before 2001.

Despite the narrow focus of the NAEP (it only measured basic academic skills), and the fact that it was not given to all students across the country (only selected schools every few years), it still showed something surprising: public school performance is great. In fact, it’s even better now than it was back in the 70’s.

It’s worth noting, however, that standardized tests, both by the NCLB policy and the NAEP, show only a fraction of what is actually going on in our public schools: it doesn’t, for instance, measure student engagement, or if students are happy, or if the education they receive is molding them into high-functioning and contributing members of society. But if it’s just academic performance being talked about, it’s showing everyone a snapshot of a school system that is thriving with minimal resources.

So where is all this vitriol coming from?

Theories abound trying to explain the decline in confidence. Some analysts say that this is a symptom of the public’s lack of trust in institutions as a whole, an effect of a floundering economy made worse by wars in the Middle East, gun violence, and a general sense of discomfort with the American government’s questionable ethics over the past decade or so.

But polls show that this is not the case. While confidence levels have declined for public schools, and even more so in Congress, institutions like small businesses, organized labor, and even the military have enjoyed high trust levels from the people.

Perhaps the biggest culprit: strong rhetoric in support of national reform. Over the past few decades, the American public has been bombarded by political messages talking about a crisis in public education without offering much in evidence or numbers. These messages, however, aren’t just confined to politicians: many NGO’s and even philanthropic organizations have constantly complained about the lack of quality in the public school system, while simultaneously promoting their version of educational reform (reform that, arguably, could benefit their organization in the long run).

What It’s Like Right Now

The truth of the matter is, however, that many schools don’t actually need reform. In fact, a majority of the 100,000 public schools (at least, the ones that have been tested) are thriving without it, and have been doing so for several years. Of course, some reform wouldn’t hurt, particularly for schools that are serving financially disadvantaged students. But they don’t reform: they need more funding, more school integration, and more attention.

public schools
Source: National Public Education

The rhetoric that has fueled the distrust of the public school system is not only damaging to the schools themselves, it’s also an indication of our nation’s moral failure. Instead of providing the system with what the law requires, politicians and organizations are twisting the mindset of the general public in order to serve their self-interests.

So, perhaps, a reform is needed, but not the one we think: America’s public school system is fine, people just need to recognize its achievements and stop talking about as if it has failed, because for all intents and purposes, it has succeeded in its mission of providing its students with quality education and stirring interest both in the academe and in civic issues.

If the millennial generation is any indication, it’s safe to say: the kids are doing alright, thanks to the public school system.