There is one simple reason that coal-fired steam engines in trains and ships were rapidly replaced by oil-fired, then diesel, electric, and even nuclear power. No matter how fast you shovel, you can’t make that steam engine go any faster.
This is my new favorite picture for K-12 educators. We reached the limit of effective learning under the drill-and-test system sometime a decade or so ago. We probably reached the limit a long time before that, but we just did not know it. We thought if we had a better and more equitable way to measure the speed of all the engines, we would see the needle on the speedometer climb. We were wrong.
(Is there a political overtone to this argument? I guess there is; anyone who thinks America will be better off if we just shovel more coal is wrong. There are finite limits to how good life gets in a world where coal heats us. But that is another subject.) There are finite limits to how well a student can learn what she needs to learn today, in a system that is still shoveling coal into a furnace.
If you are working in a school or district where the answer is “shovel faster!”, you should raise your voice, and if that doesn’t work, you probably need to work somewhere else, somewhere where more people realize that it is time to change the nature of the engine that is pulling the train.