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I admit I get a little nervous when an educator says that the student's education is mostly his or her responsibility. Scientific studies have proved that cognitive brain development is still occurring during adolescence. There are also societal assumptions that need to be eliminated. We assume that every student is bound for college, and that a standardized test given during adolescence is an accurate indicator of future success.
In reality, not every student is an academic genius and we need to be OK with that. There's nothing wrong with being an average student; being an average student doesn't necessarily define your life.
Since the 1970s school performance and education have been measured by numerous standardized tests. This emphasis (No Child Left Behind, etc.) hasn't substantively raised academic performance since then. This fact seems a strong indicator that we're missing the mark.
Bottom line, it's the person that counts, not the school he attends, or where he lives.
Perhaps a paradigm shift would be to stop defining a student's future by an SAT score or GPA. A numerical score on a piece of paper given in adolescence cannot be the sole measure to define future success.
As adults, we must determine how to motivate students. After all, they will be the educators, politicians, leaders, and military, law enforcement, and health care professionals of tomorrow.