Top-performing nations set their instructional sights on far more than basic reading and math skills.
Students in the United States rank 17th in the world in reading, 23rd in science, and 31st in mathematics on the 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). Our betters in math include Slovakia, Hungary, and Poland. Meanwhile, our economic competitors turn in performances that rank them at the top of global student achievement tests. We're far behind China, Singapore, Canada, Australia, and Japan—and we're increasingly aware of it.
Most U.S. researchers have reacted to these scores by zealously examining the country's education structures. Studies and reports abound on such topics as standards and testing, class and school sizes, and professional development. Both our data systems and our professional development do need improving. But such structural improvements alone appear unlikely to reverse the course of the United States' education decline.
When Learning Expands