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La Educación
Número: (114) I
Año: 1993

The purpose of this research was to determine and study secondary education programming, teaching, and evaluation practices after high school graduation requirements were increased in 1983 by the Legislative Assembly of the State of Florida, USA. The researcher spent a total of six months in 1989 and 1990 on an intensive case study of two different high schools in Florida. One school is an urban high school in Southern Florida with 1,200 students; 70% of which are Black or Hispanic. The other school is in an upper middle class suburb of Northern Florida with 2,000 students; of which more than 90% are white. The researcher compiled 3,000 pages of documentation, sat in on 165 classes, and interviewed 242 persons—teachers, students, and administrators. The research revealed the existence of practices provided for by law, such as a school day comprising seven class periods, new science and mathematics courses, a state wide aptitude test, and “pardon rules” to facilitate graduation. Some practices were also detected that are not provided for by law, such as watered-down courses with low academic standards, the earning of credits in easy summer courses, and “cramming” for exams. These practices stemmed from a misapplication of the law from the top down by officials and teachers who chose to strengthen the existing teaching structures instead of reforming them, and from tensions inherent in public education in the U.S. The results suggest that educational change is ineffective when policy makers are ignorant of the difficulties facing teachers and administrators. They also indicate that educators resist full implementation of measures when they believe that the consequences could be adverse for themselves or for their students.