Teacher quality is "only ... as good as the system that recruits, prepares, and compensates the nation’s teachers,” said Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

The U.S. must mirror the educational practices of top-performing countries if it is to regain its competitive advantage, according to a new report from the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE).

One of the major discrepancies between the U.S. and countries that are outperforming it educationally is the performance differences between students from high- and low-income families.

The NCEE hosted a May 24 symposium to discuss the findings of its report, called “Standing on the Shoulders of Giants: An American Agenda for Education Reform.”

“The United States, out of 24 countries, is exceeded only by Chile, Hungary, Germany, and Luxembourg in the degree to which socioeconomic status predicts student achievement,” said Marc Tucker, president of NCEE.

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“A number of nations today are simply out-educating the United States,” said Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

Tucker pointed out that policies used by the U.S. in targeting low-performing schools are ignored by higher-performing countries.