ERIC Number: ED317665
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1989-Sep
Incentives for Learning: Why American High School Students Compare So Poorly to Their Counterparts Overseas. Background Paper No. 1.
The learning gap between high school students in the United States and those in many other countries has several causes. First, U.S. students devote a lot less time and interest to learning. A second major reason is parental and school board apathy. Cultural comparisons reveal a lack of incentives for learning accomplishment in the United States, stemming from (1) the lack of labor market reward for high school achievement; (2) peer pressure that discourages studying, because students compete against each other rather than for achievement of fixed standards of competence; and (3) admission to selective colleges is based on aptitude tests rather than absolute standards of achievement. In other countries, studying hard is not a national character trait but a response to the way society rewards achievement. The difficulty lies in designing a system that motivates by recognizing and rewarding learning effort and achievement. Reform recommendations include statewide achievement examinations, local competency profiles, portfolios of graduation credentials, release of student records to employers, credential data banks, changes in college admission policies, greater use of improved employment tests, and school-based rewards for learning. Underrepresented minorities particularly would benefit through improved ability to compete in the labor market. (70 references) (SK)
Publication Type: Information Analyses
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Department of Labor, Washington, DC. Commission on Workforce Quality and Labor Market Efficiency.
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: In "Investing in People: A Strategy to Address America's Workforce Crisis" (CE 054 080).