Saturday, March 13, 2010

Some sobering (and spot-on) testimony in front of Congress this week:

One of the world's foremost experts on comparing national school systems told lawmakers on Tuesday that many other countries were surpassing the United States in educational attainment, including Canada, where he said 15-year-old students were, on average, more than one school year ahead of American 15-year-olds.

America's education advantage, unrivaled in the years after World War II, is eroding quickly as a greater proportion of students in more and more countries graduate from high school and college and score higher on achievement tests than students in the United States, 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 O.E.C.D. countries, only New Zealand, Spain, Turkey and Mexico now have lower high school completion rates than the U.S.," Mr. Schleicher said. About 7 in 10 American students get a high school diploma.

…Poland, Mr. Schleicher said, is improving its education system most rapidly. In less than a decade, it raised the literacy skills of its 15-year-olds by the equivalent of almost a school year. "If the U.S. would raise the performance of schools by a similar amount," he said, "that could translate into a long-term economic value of over 40 trillion dollars."

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