Raise the bar.
For too long education systems have bought into the rhetoric that confuses harder with better. It's as if some brainiac woke up one morning and decided we can "save our schools" by ratcheting up standards for kids that educators already have a hard time coercing into learning what distant authorities believe to be important.
The underlying message here is that school is something that must be done to kids. When we see learning like this, is it any surprise that we justify the use of what Frank Smith called "the intrusive mass of unnecessary external controls in which teaching and learning have become embedded, including testing, grading, and contrived competitiveness"?
Under the tyranny of this system, the adults tend to focus mostly on what the students fail to learn, rather than on what they are learning, which likely has more influence on their lives. In other words, we are drowning in the deficiency model of Schooling (with a capital S).
Under the tyranny of this system, children come to learn that learning is a chore, or as Frank Smith puts it:
The main thing we learn when we struggle to learn is that learning is a struggle.It's time we put rigor in the grave where it belongs and liven up our vocabulary for learning with a more preferable word: vigor.
Where rigor may demand compliance, vigor brings engagement. And where there's interest, achievement follows.