Assessing U.S. Education
An article comparing the educational performance of students in different countries has sparked some discussion on the Columbia Daily Tribune‘s Homeroom blog. The article’s conclusion, with which several of the blog’s commenters agree, is that students in the United States aren’t doing as poorly as the critics would have you believe.
I’m all in favor of staying calm about education. Politicians say we need a “sense of urgency,” then use that agitation to their advantage as they push through huge spending increases. It would be wiser to weigh the pros and cons of different policies without giving in to hysteria.
But staying calm doesn’t mean ignoring the facts. For example, this is from the first section of the article:
Only about one-third of U.S. students could read and do math at current grade levels on national tests in 2007, the most recent figures available.
I’m not reassured that a few other developed nations do comparably poorly on international math and science exams, especially given that some countries do a lot better while spending less money.