Posts Tagged ‘Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’

Study: U.S. schools about average, even counting African American and Hispanic achievement gap

Monday, January 10th, 2011

(Washington Post) Almost everyone who worries about America’s “competitiveness” in the world bemoans the sorry state of U.S. K-12 education. The Chinese and others do better. We need to catch up. From President Obama to CEOs, the refrain is to “fix the schools,” almost as if it were an engineering problem. “The urgency for reform has never been greater,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan recently wrote in The Post. The diagnosis spans the political spectrum. But what if it’s not true?

There are grounds for doubt. For starters, economic competitiveness depends on more than good schools, which are important but not decisive. To take an obvious example: The Japanese have high test scores, but Japan’s economy languishes. Its export-led growth has foundered. Next – and as important – American schools are better than they’re commonly portrayed. We now have a massive study of the reading abilities of 15-year-olds (roughly 10th-graders) in 65 systems worldwide showing that U.S. schools compare favorably with their foreign counterparts.

The most pessimistic view of the study is that, on average, American schools do as good a job as schools in other wealthy nations. We’re worse than some and better than others. The overall loss of economic competitiveness is likely modest and would be swamped by other factors (government policies, business management, exchange rates, the willingness to take risks). But a more detailed evaluation of the study – comparing similar students in different countries – suggests that U.S. schools still rank high in the world.

Full story…

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