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Obama Education Reform

Obama Education Reform

Education majors must note current trends and government policy in education reform. Research papers are often assigned on the fact that President Barack Obama initiated a number of public educational reforms during his first term, including expanding access to early childhood education, which is also known as elementary education, increasing access to higher education and reforming some aspects of President George W. Bush's law No Child Left Behind initiative. However, most likely, many instructors will focus on his signature educational reform effort, his Race to the Top initiative. Paper Masters shows you how to write a research project on Obama's Education reform.

Race to the Top

Race to the Top demands that states develop more rigorous curriculum standards and develop better assessment tools for measuring student achievement. It calls for the adoption of a Common Core of Standards and seeks ways in which teacher and school performance can be measured for the successful implementation of the new standards and higher student achievement. This involves the use of student learning assessment tools.

Race to the top is an ambitious program and seeks to achieve the following four core education reforms, as outlined by the US Department of Education:

  • Adopting a standards and assessment plan that prepares students to succeed in college and the workplace and to compete in the global economy;

  • Building data systems that measure student growth and success, and inform teachers and principals about how they can improve instruction;
  • Recruiting, developing, rewarding, and retaining effective teachers with great teaching skills, principals, especially where they are needed most; and

  • Turning around our lowest-achieving schools.

Obama has sited that in many schools across the country, leaders are willing to actively propose solutions and offer agreements to ensure that their solutions are implemented. However, once the agreed upon solutions are implemented, schools still have difficulty in meeting the objectives proposed by the change. To illustrate this point, think of the case of a new superintendent that promises to have all students prepared for algebra in the secondary grades. To this end, the superintendent orders new textbooks and materials for the new curriculum implementation, only to find that after a year, the school district is no closer to meeting its objective than it was before the new materials were ordered. In doing so, the superintendent offered a viable solution that could not be effectively implemented and executed. As such, the school district was unable to reach its goals, even after spending enormous amounts of taxpayer money to do so. What is shown through this example is that leadership in the school is not just about finding solutions for problems; rather it is about finding the right solutions for a problem.

Success in Education Reform

Part of the Race to the Top initiative is competition among school districts that seeks to invest upwards of $400 million in schools that are successfully able to develop and adopt teaching methods that provide for personalized student learning. States are being asked to reform education in four key areas: adopting State standards that prepare students for post-secondary success, creating data systems that accurately measure student success, recruitment and retention of effective teachers and principals, and turning around under performing schools. By making Race to the Top a competition, the Administration is challenging schools to find innovative ways to succeed.

Applying this to the context of his education reform, Obama makes the assertion that this same process needs to be employed in the process of education. When reforms in the school are initiated, they must not only consider the root of the problem, but also they must consider the existing system and how proposed changes will impact that system. By using this as a guide, educational leaders can better assess problems in the organization and find solutions that are both relevant and meaningful for future development. Thus, the role of the leader in the context of education is one in which the educator must be able to see all sides of the proposed solution.

While Obama does note that problems can arise in the process of school reform, he does note that if improvements are to be made overall, changes in the way that educational leaders view and conceptualize problems will be integral to this process. Without some degree of insight into how a specific intervention will impact the school on a realistic level, the leader will be unable to assure that results will be produced. Thus for many leaders using this method to approach decision-making may actually be a boon for development. By looking at all of the issues before decision-making a more viable solution that produces some results will be achieved.

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