In the United States, people generally view education through the lens of their own children and their own schools. Many Americans think a serious need for better educational performance is largely restricted to low-income children and families -- and that middle class lifestyles equate to a world-class education. While this need for low-income students is very real and very important, this report suggests that the need for better education extends deeply into America's middle class.
This three-part report highlights achievement in middle class American schools based on new analyses of math and science data from the 2009 PISA results and the results of a pilot study involving 105 American high schools that took a new test known as the OECD Test for Schools (based on PISA). The test is a school-level internationally benchmarked tool that measures reading, math and science knowledge and skills of 15-year-olds. Importantly, the OECD Test for Schools also measures key competencies such as critical thinking and problem solving as students are expected to apply their mastery of rigorous reading, math, and science content.
In the first section, the inescapable conclusion from data from the 2009 PISA study is that a large percentage of American middle class high schools have not kept pace as countries like Singapore, Finland, Korea and Germany have raised standards, invested in teachers and lifted their overall performance.The second section offers some good news -- highlighting individual U.S. schools that are global leaders. The third section summarizes some important lessons learned and the opportunities for restoring America's leadership in public education and strengthening America's competitiveness in the global economy.
The report concludes with a call for U.S. high schools across the economic spectrum to take advantage of this new international benchmarking opportunity and find out how they compare with -- and can learn from -- the world's top performing countries and schools.