Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas Wish #3: Wishing all success to

A word from Michelle Rhee:
"One reason I started Students First is because I know that we can only compete with China and other leading countries if we transform our schools.
If we were to grade the academic performance of the world’s industrialized economies, Singapore, South Korea, and now Shanghai would get an A — the United States would get a C, at best, and in math we'd get an F.
I don’t mean to sound flippant: This is what the most recent data shows. Today the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) released the results of its 2009 study to members of the media (the full, 65-page report will be available to the public on Thursday). It tested 15-year-olds in 65 of the world’s industrial economies on reading, math, and science. Once again, the United States’ scores were far from the top: 17th in reading, 23rd in science, and 31st in math.
The New York Times wrote a great article about PISA’s findings, taking a careful look at Shanghai’s success, as did the Washington Post. But here’s a quick rundown:
  • In reading, the United States was on par with Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Germany, France, the United Kingdom and several other countries, but far behind students in Shanghai and South Korea.
  • In science, Finland and Shanghai topped the list, while the United States scored about the same as Poland, Ireland, Norway, France, and several other countries.
  • In math, students in the United States scored at the bottom of the list; significantly below the average score (500): Shanghai scored 600, Singapore 562, Germany 513, and the United States 487.
The numbers might seem discouraging, but the report’s findings come as a well overdue wake-up call. As U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said, “The United States came in 23rd or 24th in most subjects. We can quibble, or we can face the brutal truth that we’re being out-educated.”
For Students First, the results come as a call to action. The study shows that high performing school systems tend to prioritize teacher pay over smaller class sizes, and combining local autonomy and effective accountability seems to produce the best results. Background or socioeconomic status, while influential, is not the determining factor in how well a student can perform. And as I discussed in a blog post yesterday, great teaching can overcome the circumstances that put our kids behind those of other world powers.
The bottom line: We need to fight to transform our underperforming education system, overcome the vested interests that stand in the way of progress, and work to ensure that our kids have the best schools in the world."

The achievement gap in the United States is costing us more than $400 billion. To find out how we reach this figure, check out this article.

Kudos to Michelle Rhee to rise from the ashes of politics and take the front for this serious matter in our nation. There simply aren't enough people fighting for our children's educations these days. Join Michelle Rhee by pledging to help overcome the problems of our school system!

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