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Issues Facing Youth Education in the United States

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Issues Facing Youth Education in the United States

The US has ranked #1 in global education in the past year. It marks the first high-place educational ranking in years. Yet we still struggle in individual categories. Math and Science rank US education in the high 20s and 30s.

Literacy has been a consistent struggle among US states. There’s a 79% national literacy rate, 21% illiteracy, with 54% of adult literacy ranking below 6th-grade reading levels.

The global pandemic of 2020 has helped and hindered the US’s focus on child education. The pandemic’s shift to online learning highlighted national education issues. Some issues include underfunding and unkept learning environments. It also showcased a greater support needed for low-income and rural communities.

Some policies, like the National Education Policy of 2020, sought to reform youth and higher education systems. This policy focused on literacy, numeracy, and vocational support. During the pandemic, local communities also stepped up to offer community aid.

They created wifi hotspots and free access to school Ipads and Laptops. This helped supply low-income and rural communities with the tools needed for online learning. Yet, support has slowed as America adopted an endemic mentality.

Even with internal and external support, schools still struggle. Post-pandemic numbers showed a record high average of children needing to repeat grades. The 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 academic years highlighted this on low-income families.

Elementary education has taken a hit as teachers struggle to meet benchmarks. Mixed-aged classrooms show the gap in academic and social-emotional learning between students. Some 2nd and 3rd-grade students are entering their first in-person education environment.

Elementary teachers now deal with issues usually addressed in lower-level grades. Some students can’t function in an in-person learning environment. They act out, lack focus, or distract other students. Other students are unable to read and write at their grade level. Teachers even report a rise in bathroom etiquette issues in higher grades.

It suggests the 2020-2022 academic years have decreased in education competency. The long-term effects of these issues are unknown. States rely on end-of-grade testing and national data to combat unforeseen issues.

Another issue facing modern youth education is the national teacher shortage. 2022 statistics suggest *45% of public schools hold one or more vacancies in a teaching position. 49%* hold vacancies in non-teaching staff. Over 50% of these vacancies are due to internal resignation. These statistics do not account for supplemental educational programs or private institutions shortages.

The shortage of qualified teachers has burdened the current working staff. This results in higher class ratios or non-educated personnel leading a class. Some schools even reported moving to half days for a part of the semester due to a lack of staff.

Reasons behind resignations are more than inadequate pay. Teachers have recently faced burnout, lack of resources, intense stress, and struggled to perform during the pandemic.

Current Policies on Adolescent Education

Specific solutions to issues in education depend on institution type. Grade level, location, and program type also factor into support.

Here are some current federal policies combating the issues. The Tenth Amendment limits federal access to education aid. Check your local state policies for more in-depth information.

Every Student Succeeds Act: Furthers the success of low-performing schools and high-need students. Works via statewide assessments, funding, communication, and mandatory college and career success programs.

No Child Left Behind Act: Created Title 1 funding to incentivize competitive academic success. 

Elementary and Secondary Education Act: Created a federal role in K-12 education aid to cover education costs of students in need. This policy has adjusted throughout the years, expanding its reach and funding.

Family Education Rights and Privacy Act: Allows greater parental authority over accessing educational records. Includes the ability to request record amendments and greater privacy in disclosing personal information.


*1: https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaeltnietzel/2020/09/09/low-literacy-levels-among-us-adults-could-be-costing-the-economy-22-trillion-a-year/?sh=46d6bbe24c90 , https://data.unicef.org/topic/education/overview/

*2: https://nces.ed.gov/whatsnew/press_releases/3_3_2022.asp

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