Sunday, December 15, 2013

A New Majority for Our Schools, Our Solutions | Randi Weingarten

A New Majority for Our Schools, Our Solutions | Randi Weingarten:

A New Majority for Our Schools, Our Solutions

Posted: 12/15/2013 10:41 am

 It has the feel of Groundhog Day: Another international education comparison, another round of hand-wringing and finger-pointing, and then right back to the same policies. You know what they say about the definition of insanity.

The latest results come from the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), conducted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The United States, once again, landed in the middle of the pack on reading and science, and below average in math. However, students in more-affluent schools in the United States where the poverty rate is less than 10 percent actually surpassed many of the highest-rated countries.

Poverty is important, as we see from the data from the three states that asked to have their PISA results broken out. Massachusetts, whose child-poverty rate is well below the national average, ranked with the world's best. Florida, where child poverty is above the national average, scored below the U.S. and OECD averages. But other factors matter too. Massachusetts also has a long history of standards-based reform and investing in teacher quality, whereas Florida has disinvested in education and has fixated on test-based accountability.

This raises the question: Are the dominant strategies in U.S. education today--hyper-testing and competition--the best approaches to help all children succeed, particularly in light of profound austerity and inequity? This is especially important given that nearly half of public school students in America live in poverty--a crisis many officials in the United States

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