The Floating Standard in Why Johnny Can’t Fail

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Why Johnny Can't Fail discusses the floating standard. The controlling idea of this essay is how the 'floating standard' has destroyed public education. Schools are not teaching their students the skills and concepts that they need to get by in the real world. Jesness says "By giving high grades and class credit to anyone willing to occupy space in a classroom, schools create the illusion that their players--their students--are winning. Only after leaving school and facing work or college do the students discover that they have lost." He supports this statement by saying "Most employers would rather hire a 10th-grade dropout with a solid 10th-grade education than a high school graduate with only fifth-grade skills. Likewise, a dropout who later graduates from night school at age 21 will be better prepared for work and life than a student who graduates illiterate at 18." The Floating Standard is causing the youth of today to fall behind.

They don't understand that to succeed you have to work hard. Schools are giving their students the misconception that if you can't meet the standard, the standard will meet you. In the real world this just isn't true, if you cannot live up to your expectations, they will find someone who can and leave you out in the cold.

The author suggests that in order to rectify the standard "Schools could submit lists of works of literature read and historical eras studied to private testing companies and receive a test compiled from computer databases. These tests would free teachers from the pressure to adjust the content of their courses and would assure students and their parents that the standard for each course is fixed, not floating." These tests would be administered by a third party to ensure that the results were accurate. This way the students, parents and administration would know that the standard was fixed and there would be no disputes over the results. Either you know the material or you don't.