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Chapter 17 Schools perform important functions in society, including training and socializing the young, fostering social cohesion, transmitting culture from generation to generation, and sorting students, presumably by talent, for further training and employment. Schools do a far from perfect job of sorting students by talent. To a degree, they simply funnel poor and minority students into low-ability classes. Eventually this results in children occupying positions in the occupational structure similar to those occupied by their parents. Standardized tests (IQ, SAT, and ACT) help to sort student by talent and reproduce the existing class structure. Student success in the education system is influenced by students cognitive ability, the quality of the schools they attend, and the material and emotional support offered by their families, the degree to which they learn elements of high-status culture in school, and the operation of self-fulfilling prophecies about which students are likely to succeed and which are not. Mass, compulsory education has its roots in the Protestant Reformation, democratic revolutions, the rise of the modern state, and globalization. These forces have spread mass, compulsory education throughout the world. Educational standards are very low in the bottom third of American schools. Proposed solutions to this problem include local initiatives aimed at improving schools, the use of vouchers that would allow students in inferior schools to attend private schools, redistributing existing resources and increasing education budgets, and substantially improving the social environment of young, disadvantaged children before and outside school. Affirmative Action and Class Privilege Academic researches, admissions officers at elite colleges, and investigative journalists at respected newspapers such as the New York Times have recently detailed the privileges in college admissions. Students routinely receive admission points if they have a parent who graduated from the college to which they are applying. Such students benefit from the so-called legacy factor. A second mechanism that bestows advantages on privileged students involves parents contributing money to the colleges that their children want to attend. This is the development factor. Meritocracy: is a stratification system in which equality of opportunity allows people to rise or fall to a position that matches their talent and effort. Macrosociological Processes The Functions of Education Educational Attainment: refers to the number of years of school students complete Educational Achievement: refers to how much students actually learn The view that the American educational system is responsible for sorting student based on talent and effort is a central component of the Functional theory of education . The functional theory also stresses the training role of schools. That is, in schools, most people learn how to read, write, count, calculate, and perform other tasks essential to the ... View Full Document

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