NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


February 6, 2007

The suggestion that U.S. students lag behind those in other countries, leading to failed schools and an inability to compete in the global economy may contain more than a few myths, says Paul Farhi, a writer for the Washington Post.

For example:

  • When compared with students in the world's most industrialized countries, U.S. students were on par with the others in every subject (and outperformed everyone in civics).
  • America's eighth-graders improved their math and science scores in 1995, 1999 and 2003, and no nation included in the major international rankings educates as many poor students or as ethnically diverse a population as does the United States.
  • During the middle twentieth century with a rising Japan and Soviet Union, critics claimed American students wouldn't be able to compete with a modern workforce, but today with the Soviet Union a memory and Japan facing its own economic and demographic problems, America is still going strong.


  • A dynamic economy is much more than the sum of its test scores, it's part of a culture that rewards innovation and risk-taking and values unconventional problem-solving -- much of this is nurtured in our schools, even if it can't be quantified on a test.
  • Continuous improvement should be our goal, regardless of whether we're No.1 in the test-score Olympics.

Source: Paul Farhi, "Paul Farhi: Sprouting up," Dallas Morning News, February 4, 2007.


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