The leaders of the nation's teachers unions immediately fired off news releases asserting that the mediocre PISA scores of American students showed that more than a decade of testing-based reform had failed our schools. Prominent reform leaders, by contrast, concluded from the test results that the U.S. was failing to change schools radically enough to aid its most disadvantaged students. Still others predicted that the U.S. economy would crash and burn because of our students' unimpressive math scores on the PISA exams compared with other countries' students.
There’s nothing more tiresome than when a Cabinet secretary holds a major news conference when there is no news to announce. It is like the obligatory press conference of the NFL coach of a losing team after his team has lost again. On Tuesday, the U.S. Secretary of Education billed the release of the test scores on worldwide education called the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) exams as a global event, even though the real news is that there is no news at all. The results revealed that U.S.
If the superintendents of failing school districts were as adept at fixing schools as they are at making excuses for their poor performance, America would have the best education system in the world.
Instead, the just-released tests administered by the Program for International Student Assessment show that other countries are making faster progress than the United States.
Our teenagers are now ranked 26th in math, 21st in science and 17th in reading. Shanghai, Singapore, South Korea, and Hong Kong are leading the pack.
One answer comes from Eric Hanushek, a well-known education economist and school reform advocate at Stanford's conservative Hoover Institution (you might have caught him in the documentary "Waiting for Superman"). He and his collaborators argue that test scores really do predict economic growth, since smarter countries are more innovative and productive countries, and can attract more international investment. If the United States were to raise our test scores to Canada's levels, they say, it could add $77 trillion to the economy over the next 80 years.
The Getting Down to Facts project furthermore said there was “essentially no relationship” between how much California spent on its students and a school’s Academic Performance Index, which until now has been the main way schools’ effectiveness in improving academic outcomes has been measured. “If additional dollars were inserted in the current system, there would be no reason to expect substantial increases in student outcomes related to state goals,” Loeb and her colleagues concluded in their 2007 paper.
In 1971, according to the Pew Research Center, 61% of all adults lived in middle-income households. By 2011, the middle-income share had fallen to 51%, while the lower- and upper-income sectors grew. Median household income in 2011 was not significantly higher than it had been in 1989. Because upper-income households fared much better during those four decades, their share of total household income increased by 17 percentage points—to 46% from 29%—while the middle-income share fell by 17 points, to 45% from 62%. No wonder Neiman-Marcus and Wal-Mart WMT +0.24% are doing well while J.C. Penney JCP +3.58% and Sears are nearing collapse.
Although the wealthiest Americans have always lived in their own islands of privilege, sociologists and demographers say the degree to which today’s professional class resides in a world apart is a departure from earlier generations. People of widely different incomes and professions commonly lived close enough that they mingled at stores, sports arenas and school. In an era in which women had fewer educational and professional opportunities, lawyers married secretaries and doctors married nurses. Now, lawyers and doctors marry each other.
A recent analysis of census data by sociologists Sean Reardon of Stanford and Kendra Bischoff of Cornell highlighted how middle-income neighborhoods have been fading away as more people live in areas that are either poor or affluent.
ObamaCare isn't the only thing the Obama administration is spinning these days. In education, too, accomplishments on the ground don't match the rhetoric coming out of Washington. That's the main take-away from the latest results on student performance in math and reading on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, which the Education Department released on Thursday after some delay.