Share this story
Close X
Switch to Desktop Site

Education solutions from abroad for chronic U.S. school problems

From teach-to-test straitjacket to school disparity, chronic school problems that American schools face are being solved in different ways around the world.  


This is part of the cover story project on global education lessons in the Sept. 2, 2013 issue of The Christian Science MonitorWeekly.

John Kehe/The Christian Science Monitor

About these ads

American schoolchildren are heading back to the classroom amid an intensifying debate as shrill with urgency as the bell urging them to their desks: how to ensure that they will be able to compete in a global market when they graduate.

Study after study in recent years suggests that American children fall well behind kids from Seoul to Helsinki, putting them at a great disadvantage in an increasingly knowledge-driven and global economy. The United States ranked 30th in mathematics literacy, 20th in science, and 14th in reading in the 2009 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), a test administered every three years by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). In math, noted a February report to the US Education Department by the Equity and Excellence Commission, "only one in four of America's 52 million K-12 students is performing on par today with the average student in the highest-performing school systems in the world."

These shortcomings take their toll on the economy. In a 2010 study, Eric Hanushek of Stanford University and Ludger Woessmann of the University of Munich charted a correlation between gross domestic product and PISA scores: They posited that it would take the US 20 years to implement the kind of reforms that would enable it to reach Finnish levels – and that, if the US did that, its GDP would grow by 700 percent by the end of the century.


Page 1 of 5

Follow Stories Like This
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.