The field of education has many pressing issues to address, particularly as the United States loses academic ground to many other nations. In fact, when it comes to advanced proficiency in math, the United States comes in 30th, according to a "Nation" article lamenting this fact. Researchers seek to remedy this and other problems that haunt the educational system. Halting academic decline is the hot research topic of the day.
Literacy continues to be studied by universities and nonprofit organizations. Researchers look at all aspects of literacy, from second-language learning to adult literacy. One theme that repeatedly arises in literacy research is that of equality. Researchers want to know how to close the literacy gap between rich and poor, black and white and other disparate groups regardless of the schools students attend. Another trend is to examine the methodologies used in reading instruction to find out what approach yields the greatest literacy gains among students.
Learning About Diversity
In the 1990s, educators began looking at the effects of culture on learning in greater numbers than ever before. Recognizing that classrooms were becoming more heterogeneous, and that this trend would continue, researchers began to examine the learning styles of various cultural groups to determine how teachers could best serve students from these groups in a diverse classroom setting. Diversity encompasses more than culture, however. Researchers also explore ways that students with different learning styles and disabilities can learn in an integrated classroom.
Teacher Recruitment and Retention
For every day school is in session, more than a thousand teachers leave the field of teaching for good. The monetary cost of replacing these teachers is more than $2 billion a year, according to the Alliance for Excellent Education. As a rule, students make greater gains when they are taught by a teacher who has years of experience, particularly during elementary school. To prevent students from losing ground due to teacher attrition, researchers look at ways to better prepare teachers for the classroom, for districts to make better hires and to support new teachers once they are employed. Researchers also study ways to attract teachers who are certified in areas of need -- math, science, bilingual education and special education -- to the field.
The Alliance for Excellent Education also points out that one-third of students who enter the ninth grade will drop out before completing their high school education. The numbers are even worse in large cities, where up to half of students drop out before graduating. Researchers are charged with examining the reason for the high dropout rate and finding solutions to the problem. All aspects of the issue are studied -- school environment, family educational levels, learning styles and more.