Within the educational system and the larger United States society, there is a debate over whether this country is a Meritocracy.


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According to The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (4th Edition), a Meritocracy is, on the individual level, “a [social] system in which advancement is based on individual ability or achievement” alone, and on the governmental level, “a group of leaders or officeholders selected on the basis of individual ability or achievement,” and not due to their wealth or birth status.

Basically, then, in a Meritocracy, individuals advance or fail based solely on their motivation, work ethic, intellect, and abilities. This is not impacted or influenced by their social position in terms of the social identities of “race,” socioeconomic class, sex, gender, ethnicity, religion, linguistic background, sexual identity, physical or mental disability, or their physical appearance.

You will write a paper on where you stand and why on the following question: “Is the United States a Meritocracy?”

Also, what relevance does this topic have for this course and education in general in the United States? Consider this as a research paper in the largest sense of the word. You are not simply to present your opinions or personal experiences, but rather, you must back up your points of view using reputable references. Students must critically investigate every source you use to determine: 1. its validity, and 2. its reliability (can it be confirmed or replicated in another source. You must place references in APA style. (See pages 31- 32, this syllabus.) Each student will write a paper, double spaced, one-inch margins, 12 point type, minimum 5 pages, not counting cover page and references. The Meritocracy Paper is due by Thursday, October 8 and is worth a possible 25 points.



22.5 – 25

Made outstanding points. Was clear and thoughtful. Obvious high degree of effort was given in the research preparation. Outstanding critical analysis and writing style.

20 – 22

Made above-average points in terms of clarity and thoughtfulness. Good effort was given in the research preparation. Above average critical analysis and writing style.

17.5 – 19.5

Made a few points. Showed average clarity and thoughtful. Not obvious high degree of effort given in the research preparation. Average critical analysis and writing style.

15 – 17

Made some points, but lacked clarity or thoughtfulness. Did not convey that much effort was given to the research participation. Low critical analysis and writing style.

0 – 14.5

Made few if any points and lacked clarity or thoughtfulness. Little or no perceivable effort given in the research preparation. Lacked critical analysis or poor writing style evident.


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