The establishment that loves to tout their great educational program, ignores one key factor in successful outcomes: Incentive. Why should they (students) attempt excellence when the prospects of exceptional employment is only a dream. The families prove to them everyday that the "system" will take care of you with no effort required.
In the past, an education was a matter of survival. It was the difference between a job pumping gas or working cleaning tables or a better job that had potential for promotion.
Until there is a very real possibility that you will go hungry if you do not get off your rear end and find a job or work to be an exceptional college student, the system will continue to produce substandard mass-produced minimum effort workers. We worry too much about damaging a students self esteem. We need to take away the free breakfast and school lunch. Make them start getting up early and making their own breakfast and lunch. Take away the television, IPhones, tablets and replace them with textbooks. One other suggestion...stop with the mindless memorizing of material to make it through the test. tart debate and discussion classes so that they learn to analyze data not just regurgitate it.