The Bellevue School District is one of the most esteemed districts in America—BSD schools are among the top in the nation. Many students have achieved great success in academic, music and sports competitions. Per BSD data, the Class of 2015 scored nearly a hundred points higher in all three categories of the SAT than the average for both Washington State and the nation. The BSD’s average pass rate is more than 20% than the average pass rate for everyone in the state for standardized tests.
However, the excellency and success of BSD’s students are not because of what the BSD teaches at school. A student said that, “They give us big packets, but never really teach us anything.” Another student said that the things he learned from school make up less than 10% of his total academic knowledge. Other students responded similarly. In reality, students learn more from extracurricular activities and from other resources, rather than school. Because the BSD is evidently unsuccessful in attempts to equip students with knowledge and experience, we must improve the BSD’s curriculums so that they may teach students and allow them to be successful in life.
The principal issue with BSD education is the ‘spiral curriculum’, where concepts are repeated throughout elementary, middle, and high school. For example, students learned about the angles formed by a transversal in IMT2 (5th grade), and then in Geometry (7th grade), for about a month. Similarly, students learned about chemical reactions in 4th grade and 7th grade, and about Native Americans both in 4th grade and 7th grade.
Proponents of the spiral curriculum say that it contributes to a deeper understanding of concepts. According to the U.S. Department of Education, which supports the spiral curriculum, “information is reinforced and solidified each time the student revisits the subject matter”. At first sight, this sounds reasonable, since human tendency is to forget things periodically.
However, students who feel like they have a shaky foundation should review these key concepts outside of class, or ask their teacher in tutorial, instead of holding the whole class back for these certain students. Furthermore, the BSD’s model of spiral curriculum does not go into more depth the second time through. Instead of squandering valuable class time to teach something students learned three years ago, curriculum makers should incorporate new topics. This way, school would teach students something, instead of burdening their minds with vapid topics to satisfy the needs of a few students.
This brings us to the second objective, making school more interesting and fun to students. According to LiveScience, two in three students feel bored or disinterested in school. What if we could change that? If you enjoy something, you’ll be more engaged with it, and you’ll spend more time and work harder on it. As Business News Daily put it, if you do what you love, you will be more productive, be more motivated, want to keep learning, and you feel more fulfilled.
Thus, the BSD’s curriculums must be made more motivating to effectively engage students. Even though students’ opinions vary greatly in regards to interest, having an interesting and engaging activity is easily reachable by having students vote on what activity they want to participate in, or something of the sort that allows students to oversee what they learn. Teachers and curriculum makers need to listen much more to students, because in the end, everything the teachers and curriculum makers do is supposed to benefit the students. Similarly to how Computer Adaptive Tests take the responses of the students in order optimize the test for that particular student, curriculums need to orient in favor of what students want to learn, more or less. This way, students will be more interested and engaged with the curriculum, enabling them to learn more.
You, as a student, possess the power to influence your education. Although you cannot directly change what happens at the BSD, you have the right to express your opinions. If you find that school bores you, speak out. If you find some concepts to be too difficult, speak out. You cannot simply stand by. Speak, write, petition, run for office. But most importantly, act. Take a stand for yourself and your own education.