Is the education system working?

PISA, the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment, measures 15-year-olds’ ability to use their reading, mathematics, and science knowledge and skills to meet real-life challenges. Its league table of results suggests which of the 90 participating countries have been able to improve their education system and student performance.

But when we look back at people throughout history who have made a significant impact on society, it’s not their school reading, math, or science test results that measure their success.

One well known winner of the Nobel Prize for physics was told by his teacher at school that he would ‘never amount to anything.’ For Albert Einstein, it was his fascination with the invisible forces that deflected a compass needle and a book on science that ignited his lifelong fascination with the world around him. But how do we strike a balance between the core curriculum and the invaluable importance of developing a child’s hard and soft skills, their curiosity, and their creativity?…Read More

2 teacher perspectives on ELLs and learning loss

Since the pandemic started, teachers and students have had to transition from brick-and-mortar classrooms to virtual environments, and back. During this time, learning loss–the reversal of academic progress due to disrupted formal education–has been of significant concern to educators. Unfortunately, studies show that English Language Learners (ELLs) have been disproportionately impacted by learning loss, as compared to their peers.

According to the OECD, school closures and distance learning measures have put ELLs at a greater disadvantage compared to the general student population. A learning gap, which existed prior to the pandemic, is widening across the United States. At the same time, the demands of virtual and hybrid learning have put incredible strains on teachers throughout the pandemic. 

This issue has become a point of controversy for English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers, who do not feel the term ‘learning loss’ accurately describes the complex situation faced by ELLs in America.  …Read More

Could your school lead in world rankings?

A new test from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) will let individual schools see how their achievement ranks compared to schools in other countries around the world. The goal, say the creators, is to spur school improvement.

According to a recent report released by the nonprofit educational organization America Achieves, it’s not just low-income schools in the U.S. that have poor performance—it’s the country’s middle-class students, too.

“While the need for educational improvement in low-income communities is real and important, this new report suggests that the need also extends deeply into America’s middle class,” the organization maintains.…Read More

What U.S. schools can learn from abroad

Experts say PISA results are a good indicator of future economic success.

U.S. students once again placed near the middle of the pack in the latest international comparisons in reading, math, and science—and the program’s organizers have issued a list of key characteristics that top-performing nations share.

These keys to success include training, respecting, paying, and empowering their teachers more fully; emphasizing preschool education; pairing successful schools with struggling ones; and personalizing the learning process for students.…Read More

Expert: Many nations passing the U.S. in education

One of the world’s foremost experts on comparing national school systems told lawmakers on March 9 that many other countries are surpassing the United States in educational attainment, reports the New York Times—including Canada, where he said 15-year-old students were, on average, more than a full school year ahead of their American peers. America’s education advantage is eroding quickly as a greater proportion of students in more countries graduate from high school and college and score higher on achievement tests, said Andreas Schleicher, a senior education official at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris, which helps coordinate policies for 30 of the world’s richest countries. “Among OECD countries, only New Zealand, Spain, Turkey, and Mexico now have lower high school completion rates than the U.S.,” Schleicher said. His comments came in testimony before the Senate education committee, which is rewriting the nation’s education law. The committee also heard from Dennis Van Roekel, president of the National Education Association; John Castellani, president of the Business Roundtable; and Charles Butt, chief executive of a supermarket chain in Texas, who said employers there faced increasing difficulties in hiring qualified young workers. The blame for America’s sagging academic achievement does not lie solely with public schools, Butt said, but also with dysfunctional families and a culture that undervalues education. “Schools are inheriting an over-entertained, distracted student,” he said. Sen. Tom Harkin, the Iowa Democrat who leads the Senate committee, picked up on that comment. “Over-entertained and distracted—that’s right,” he said. “The problem lies with many kids before they get to school, and if we don’t crack that nut, we’re going to continue to patch and fill.”

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