Are America's Schools World-Class?

by Carol Kocivar | January 8, 2017 | 0 Comments
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Image: Untitled CC Panda Chess Academy

No, they aren't.

Every few years, two major tests independently compare the learning of students around the world. According to both tests, American students are far from the head of the class. An ocean away, in fact.

Is it time for panic or time for reflection? Or maybe for more denial? Hey, they're just tests, right? Right? Does it really matter that America's students are outscored by those in China, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Canada, Poland, and dozens of other countries?

These tests probably matter. Students who score well tend to do well. Countries that do well tend to prosper over time. Find out what these tests mean and how we can learn from the results here.

But California's OK, Right?

No. The news is even more sobering for the state of California. Each year, a statistically rigorous sample of 4th and 8th graders take tests that help create the “Nation’s Report Card. California’s average scores consistently lag national averages. The good news is that scores have risen over time... but that's true everywhere.

The bad news is that California isn't investing in its kids, and it's showing.

Find out what this means for California here.

What Works?

In its long-term study of worldwide education systems, the OECD PISA program has identified a set of key components associated with long-term success. Some US states are successfully implementing a number of these approaches, but California is pursuing only some of them:

  • Rigorous and consistent standards in ALL classrooms.
    (Common Core sets the stage for achieving this. See Lesson 6.1)
  • Investing in high quality teachers and school leaders.
    (California faces significant challenges in this area.)
  • Additional resources to support at risk students and low performing schools.
    (California's LCFF funding system is aligned with this approach but does not have sufficient state funding.)
  • Early education, after school support, health and counselors.
    (California lags deeply in these areas -- See lessons 4.1, 4.7, 2.3 and 2.7)
  • On-going analysis of what works and what needs to be improved--focusing on high need students.
    (California's data systems for education are far behind other states and countries. See Lesson 9.5)

What Will You Do About It?

Every year, parents have a chance to give input on how to improve schools through the LCAP process in their district. Ed100 has a brand-new checklist to help get you engaged and informed -- and make a difference. Take a peek.

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