From classroom trends to school board decisions, Class Act will keep you updated on all the school issues followed by the Star Tribune’s education reporters. Contributors include Steve Brandt, who covers Minneapolis; Kim McGuire, who covers the west metro; Erin Adler, who covers the south metro; Anthony Lonetree and Libor Jany, who cover St. Paul and the east metro, and Paul Levy and Shannon Prather, who cover the north metro.

Stagnant scores on international test concerns educators, activists

Posted by: Kim McGuire Updated: December 3, 2013 - 11:14 AM

There is much hand wringing today in education circles over the less than stellar performance of U.S. students on a test that measures academic performance of students around the globe.

Known as Programme International for Student Assessment (PISA), the test is given every three years  to 15 year-olds from 65 participating world economies. The test includes science, math and reading questions.

For the most part, U.S. scores fell in the middle of the pack as students from Shanghai, China dominated all subjects. Other Asian countries did well as did students in Finland and the Netherlands.

The words "stagnant", "mediocre" and "disappointing" seemed to dominate descriptions of the U.S. scores. Here's what some have to say:

"Today’s PISA results drive home what has become abundantly clear: While the intentions may have been good, a decade of top-down, test-based schooling created by No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top—focused on hyper-testing students, sanctioning teachers and closing schools—has failed to improve the quality of American public education." Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers

"There's absolutely no reason we should settle for mediocrity, especially when it comes to our kids. American students are capable of high achievement on the international stage, and there are just as many exceptional educators in our great nation, but our system has been failing them. While some bipartisan progress has been made to put in place student-centered reforms that are beginning to show results, far too many political and educational leaders are sitting still." Michelle Rhee, founder of StudentsFirst.

“It is no coincidence that the countries with the strongest PISA scores also have rapidly growing economies. Global leaders recognize that in order to continue strong economic expansion, they must invest in their youngest learners. But the U.S. trails behind almost every developed country in the world when it comes to access to high-quality preschool. In fact, countries like China and India are dramatically expanding access to preschool, reflecting growing consensus that transcends political ideologies and geographic boundaries—that skills development starts at birth and lays the foundation for achievement in school, college, career and life." Kris Perry, executive director of the First Five Years Fund.

Our performance is not worse than it was on earlier PISA assessments – in fact, it held rock steady through each of the successive PISA surveys. " That is the problem.  With each survey, more and more countries surpass the U.S.in these important education rankings." Marc S. Tucker, president and CEO of the National Center for Education and the Economy.\

From the National Center for Education Statistics.


 

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