New results from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) came out this morning, and once again US students were left behind by overseas competition.
I’m still going through the report, which covers testing administered in 2012, but some scholars had a chance to review an advance copy, and their comments are already circulating by e-mail.
Paul E. Peterson, who directs the Program on Education Policy and Governance at Harvard University and is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, summarizes:
“The bitter reality is that American students’ performance on international math, science, and reading tests is still sub-par. Our kids trail students in most of the industrialized world and lag far behind countries like Germany, Korea, Canada, and Australia to say nothing of the broad grouping of East Asian countries at the top. This embarrassing performance, unchanged even as politicians and citizens profess a keen interest in improving our schools, bodes poorly for the future economic security of the United States.”
Another scholar who got an advanced look is Eric Hanushek, a Senior Fellow in Education at the Hoover Institution. His reaction to the new report:
“What the PISA results show is the dire need to entertain more radical changes in our stagnant schools: more choice, more performance pay, and more local decision-making. Each of these will help America’s kids, however, only if there is also a good system of standardized testing that identifies failing schools and holds them accountable. Then, when the next round of international test scores is released in 2016, we may finally have some genuine good news.”
One real shocker I already spotted on my own, the country of Vietnam outscored the US across the board in math, science and reading. In math and science, the difference between the US and Vietnam performance was significant.
So, the US has a serious and continuing problem. Our schools’ performance is “stagnant” compared to a lot of tough competition elsewhere. We need real reforms in our schools (not an incomplete, bait and switch approach with standards that cut off after the 10th grade), and experts like Hanushek see school choice as one of the tools we need to move beyond educational mediocrity.
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