Nation's Best School Districts Trail Global Competition

February 6, 2013

In a global economy where goods, services and ideas travel quickly, nearly everyone agrees that education is a crucial component in remaining globally competitive. Unfortunately, even the best U.S. school districts perform poorly when compared with their international peers. Based on the Bush Institute's Global Report Card 2.0, former Michigan reporter Mary Petrides Tillotson says that even America's best and brightest students cannot compete with their foreign counterparts.

  • The Global Report Card (GRC) uses the latest international test score data to compare U.S. students with students abroad in the areas of math and science.
  • Only 9 percent of U.S. districts have their average student place in the top 33rd percentile internationally.
  • The Dallas Independent School District ranks in just the 31st percentile in math and 33rd percentile in reading when compared internationally. It ranks in the 40th and 34th percentile in math and reading, respectively, when compared nationally.
  • The Los Angeles Unified School District ranks in the 7th percentile in math and 13th percentile in reading when compared internationally. It ranks in the 11th and 14th percentile in math and reading, respectively, when compared nationally.
  • The authors of the study stress that the problems with U.S. education are not just confined to urban districts and that many of the necessary reforms will target suburban and urban districts equally.

Stanford University economist Eric Hanushek says the future of the economy in any given country is directly correlated with that country's ability to education its students. Hanushek stresses that the global economy crosses national boundaries, pitting students of all nationalities against each other in the global job market. He also says we must improve the quality of teachers by removing bad teachers from classrooms, though he acknowledges that union contracts make it difficult to accomplish this goal.

One of the coauthors of the GRC, Jay Greene, refrains from offering specific reforms to close this substantial and troublesome gap but believes that simply publicizing the disparity is useful in promoting awareness that will lead to change. With such astounding performance failures, it is clear that the United States must make substantial efforts at implementing reform. However, what those reforms are remains controversial.

Source: Mary Petrides Tillotson, "Report: Nation's Best School Districts Trail Global Competition," Heartland Institute, December 21, 2012. "Global Report Card 2.0," George W. Bush Institute, 2012.

 

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