Providing an International Yardstick to Measure U.S. Schools

  • Education
  • 2012

America’s schools no longer compete just with each other; they must be measured against counterparts in other countries that are turning out inventors, workers, and citizens of the future. With this in mind, a donor-supported nonprofit called America Achieves has begun offering U.S. schools a chance to assess their students on today’s top international exam—the OECD Test for Schools. In 2012, funding from Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Carnegie Corporation, and the Hewlett, Kern Family, Barrett, Stuart, and Rodel foundations made it possible for any U.S. school to participate in a pilot offering; 105 schools did. The results showed that most U.S. students now fall in the middle of the international pack in the amount of knowledge they have absorbed. Honest, fair, sobering results like this, some reformers believe, are essential if expectations for American schools are to be raised, and an accurate roadmap created of the sectors that are most potholed and dangerous.

With the 2012 experiment successfully completed, America Achieves and its donors are now making the OECD test available to any and every high school in the U.S. And schools that have had their student body assessed will have the opportunity to participate in a “Global Learning Network” where they can collaborate, learn from each other, and pull themselves up to international standards.

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