2020 SOTU Part VIII – Education Review

State of the Union (SOTU): Backdrop Part VIII – Education Update. Original posting date was January 24, 2017. Updates of selected parts of the SOTU, with emphasis on current observations, will be posted as the review continues.


Part VIII – Education – 2017: Areas of the review include subjects of interest to educators:

  1. Charter Schools
  2. Office of Educational Technology
  3. National Education Technology Plan
  4. Office of Educational Technology Publications
  5. GoOpen and INFORM Journeys
  6. PISA – Programme Review for International Student Achievement


Part VIII – Education: Review presents a logical sequence of events for school districts to develop standardized course syllabi for a complete district, thereby conserving administration and teacher resources. The Office of Educational Technology, and the Plan, provide access to free licensed educational software available from several major publishers.

PISA – Programme for International Student Achievement, provides outcomes of student assessment for a standard set of courses by cooperating schools worldwide. The report indicates that U.S. fifteen-year-olds are holding steady in reading and science performance (meaning average), and below average in math, ranking in 38th position worldwide.

U.S. expenditure for education is 4.5 percent of GDP, the highest of all nations.

Comparative cost of providing education between schools worldwide indicates the U.S. has the highest percentage of GDP expended, however, the outcome is not indicative of high-quality for costs incurred.

Information contained in the above references raise the question of quality of student learning. Overall, U.S. high school graduates appear to be unprepared to compete with their international counterparts.

Alliance for Excellent Education: Source supporting education decision-making by administrators, teachers, and parents. Subject categories are:

  1. Take Action – Pressing issues in education.
  2. Current Issues – Accountability, assessment, college, and career-ready standards, linked learning and more.
  3. Webinars & Events – Future ready librarians, cybersecurity, School-to-community partnerships and more.
  4. Available Publications – Reports & Fact Sheets, implementation of federal and national policies, high school reform, increasing student achievement, and the Federal Flash five-minute video series on education policy in Washington DC.
  5. State Data – State by state data on reading proficiency, high school graduation rates, four-year college graduation rates, common core and more.
  6. Observations indicate that COVID 19 is impacting the ability of schools in K-12, and higher education to offer on-campus classes.


Alliance for Excellent Education provides several information reports, supporting resources, and the economic impact of high school graduation.

State Data should be of particular interest to decision-makers. Analyzing data state by state creates a more focused path toward better solutions. Data provide a base from which to make and implement plans for improvement of outcomes.

COVID 19 impact on education, which prior to the event, was providing unsatisfactory outcomes. Off campus and online teaching and student learning may not be a satisfactory approach for all students. Some may excel, however, many more may have even lower outcomes.

Online Resources – School districts can choose from a list of course planning, and review offerings. Many are free while others are available at nominal cost:

  1. Google Meet, – Teaching and administration
  2. Microsoft Teams – Chat, meetings, calling and collaboration
  3. Zoom – Video and web conferencing

The challenge for school districts, teachers, and students is having the necessary hardware, networks, software resources, and ability to use them effectively.

Part VIII – Education Update 2020: Competition in Computer Science and Engineering.


IIT Bombay: The school system is an example of a Technical Education Factory. Established in 1958, with assistance of the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). It is a large campus with 584 major buildings on a 550-acre setting.

IIT Bombay was developed with Funding provided by Russia. (Wikipedia – refer to the History section).

IIT Bombay is a major competitor of U.S. Programs. The programs are intense, and their graduates are highly prized by U.S., European, and Asian  companies. International companies provide current products to the students for engineering experience under program grants.

Primary offerings are engineering, pure sciences, design, management, and humanities with a primary focus on engineering.

Research and Development is conducted by students and faculty in thrust areas of science and engineering. The institute has ongoing academic and research collaborations with many national and international universities, governments, and industries. Research Park.

Initially, the university was a member of “Links to Asia by Organizing Traineeship and Student Exchange” (LAOTSE). Currently the system has Mou’s with an international network of leading universities, exchanging students and senior scholars worldwide.

IIT BombayX: Offers free online courses as a member of the worldwide edX online system, including Virtual Engineering Labs

International competition is advanced. The example of IIT Bombay sets a high hurdle to achieve:

  • Faculty, undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate students live on campus in residences provided by the university.
  • Schools for the family, stores, hospitals, and entertainment venues are on campus.
  • Freshmen study in the open classroom environment.
  • Sophomores begin to teach freshmen as teaching assistants. Additionally, they are encouraged to work with commercial entities as interns during the year.
  • During the junior and senior year, students begin research and contracting with commercial organizations.
  • All fields of engineering live together in an incubator environment. Math, physics, chemistry, electrical, electronic, mechanical, and more.
  • International companies prefer to hire from these universities. It is not so much the salaries they pay them. It is the knowledge and experience with company products and services they bring to the organization.

It should be no surprise, that the world is experiencing a “war of digital proportions.” International companies paid them to have the capability.

Brief Summary:

  1. A dichotomy exists between educational systems of the U.S. and IIT Bombay. The U.S. has the highest cost of all other countries for education, 4.5% of GDP, and ranks in 38th position for outcomes internationally.
  2. Consistently, educators say more money will improve outcomes. Where is the evidence?
  3. Program design at IIT Bombay focuses intensely on the profession.
  4. U.S. programs devote up to a year and half for humanities and social science courses.
  5. At IIT Bombay, with minor exceptions, incoming students complete these courses at the lower level prior to applying for admission to the university.
  6. IIT Bombay includes a strong academic, research and industry relationship for students.
  7. Publish or perish has been strongly criticized, as emphasis on publishing may decrease the value of resulting scholarship, as scholars must spend more time scrambling to publish whatever they can get into print.
    • Additionally, it leads to diversion of effort, resulting in courses taught by unsupervised teaching assistants.
    • At IIT Bombay, students in the second year begin to teach under the supervision of highly qualified faculty.
  8. Teachers must demonstrate progress on moving to more difficult schools and curriculum throughout their career.
  9. Teaching tenth grade algebra as a career is not the best use of resources.
  10. Improving teacher quality is especially important. U.S. schools are focusing on the now, not planning.
  11. Teacher’s degree, certification, preparation, and professional development do not guarantee outcomes.
  12. Class size varies. Higher degree of success is frequently achieved in countries with large class size.
  13. U.S. places too much emphasis on faculty evaluation by students. Most countries evaluate faculty via student outcomes, the quality approach.
  14. U.S. teachers have too many out-of-class activities which do not lend to student learning.
  15. Charter Schools can be a solution for removing the handicap U.S. education has in improving outcomes for students.
    • Current models for managing and administering schools, teachers and students originate at federal and state levels of government.
    • This approach creates an inflexible model which places a ceiling on growth and excellence by establishing manage-to and teach-to values.
    • It is the same problem industry had thirty years ago regarding quality of products. Focus on the process to improve the product at the process level, the classroom and school.
  16. Students learn and score higher when traditional methods are used.
  17. Open classrooms and technology can be used, however, must support structured learning to objectives with the teacher in control.
  18. Student success improves when involved in apprentice programs with industry while attending school.
  19. Student success increases with more time on the subject for deeper learning to solve complex problems.
  20. U.S. teaches in a circular model, coming back to the subject at varying times in the curriculum rather than extended time on subject.
Posted in SOTU Backdrop.