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Idea#1: Schools of the United States Must Focus on Accountability

The accountability of the schools of America depends on whether the students are held to high standards. 

Accountability may not be popular, but it will eliminate the achievement gap between underperforming schools and those that are performing well. Unfortunately, all too often the schools that perform poorly are those that have a number of minority or low-income students. Therefore, in order to prevent the students of these schools from slipping between the cracks, we must make these schools accountable. There must be consequences for underperforming schools. 

Throughout our nation, there has been a nationwide movement to raise standards in order to prepare our students better for college or a career. As a result, there has been progress such as meeting the Common Core State Standards. 

Idea #2: Schools Must Involve Parents

When parents are involved with the education of their children, the children learn more. Not only do these children learn more, but they are rarely a behavior problem in the classroom. As a child’s first teacher, it is often parents or other caregivers who can encourage a child’s desire to excel in school learning. 

For the above reasons, schools must welcome the participation of parents in the classroom. Teachers, as well as other educators such as guidance counselors, must always inform parents of how they can assist their child with their homework and understanding the lessons of the day. 

How Teachers can Involve Parents

 Texting: Texting can be an amazing way to connect with parents. By texting, a teacher will most likely find he or she gets a response quickly. Texting allows a teacher to update a parent before a problem occurs. A parent-teacher relationship can be built if a teacher contacts a parent regularly. 
 Have a Positive Focus: If a teacher contacts a parent before there’s a problem, you can build a better parent-teacher relationship. It’s important for a teacher to let a parent know when their child has done a nice job. Letting the parent know may only take a few minutes, but it can do wonders for a teacher’s relationship with a parent. If a teacher does have a problem with a student, the parent will then be more cooperative. 
 Be Interested in What Parents Have to Say About Their Child: Teachers will find that parents will be more willing to work with them during the year if they are willing to learn about the student from parents. 

One way a teacher can show interest in what a parent has to say about a student is to send a fill-in-the-blank questionnaire during the first week of school. The questionnaire could be a way for a parent to inform the teacher about their child’s hobbies, strengths, and interests. The questionnaire also gives the parent a way to brag about their child which is something they love to do. 
 Lure Parents into School: Schools should have district-wide programs which are designed to draw and support the families. The general idea of this is to provide a link between the home and school. The programs the school might offer may be workshops or classes for parents. The parents can also use the school’s computers or fax machines. Parent Resource Centers Title I funding is available for schools that qualify. 
 Visit Parents at Home: If a teacher visits a parent at home, the parent will really appreciate the effort. However, it’s also a great way to learn more about a student. 

Idea #3: Innovation Should be Encouraged

The fact that American schools should encourage innovation is not new to a lot of people. For example, the Innovation Schools and School District Act requires that schools, groups of schools, and school districts try new ways to both deliver instruction and allocate resources. School districts are classified as being “Districts of Innovation,” if they have at least one school implementing innovation plans. These schools are given greater autonomy. 

Schools can Innovate with Technology

One way schools can improve is through the use of technology. The American schools haven’t been touched by technology as much as the rest of society. Through the use of technology, our schools can be more efficient. They can engage students and customize their learning as well. Students’ performance can also be improved using the data provided by technology. 

Schools can Innovate with Project-Based Learning

Project-Based Learning requires students to analyze information from many different sources such as the Internet or experts in the field they are studying. Book based learning requires students to merely memorize facts from a single source. On the other hand, project-based classwork requires a student to employ original documents and to master principles taught in traditional courses and learned in meaningful ways. The work of students is presented to other audiences besides the teacher such as community groups and parents. 

Schools can Innovate with Cooperative Learning

Students develop both emotional and social skills through the use of cooperative learning. These skills provide students with a foundation for their future lives as family members, workers, and citizens. Students work together in a team to complete a task much like they will in their future jobs. They must collaborate, resolve conflicts, and manage emotions while working in teams. Each member of the team not only learns the subject matter, but they also help the other team members to learn as well. 

Integrated Studies are a Form of Innovation for Schools

Integrated Studies are described by James Burke in his book titled Connections. Subjects such as literature, history, and art are studied together. 

Idea #4: Teachers Must be High Quality

• High-quality teachers have high expectations for all students. 
• A high-quality teacher is a trained professional. They should be experts in their field and able to work in teams to solve their school’s problems. 
• A high-quality teacher should always have clear and written-out objectives. 
• A high-quality teacher is organized and prepared. 
• A high-quality teacher is able to get students to look at issues in many different ways. 
• A high-quality teacher shows he or she cares about students as people and has strong relationships with them. 
• A high-quality teacher is a master of their subject. 
• A high-quality teacher involves parents and communicates often with them. 

Idea #5: There Should be Choice

If the schools in a town are chronically failing, parents should be allowed to send their children elsewhere. They should be able to choose a public or private school. Perhaps, the failing school will be enticed to improve rather than see students go elsewhere.

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