NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

The U.S. Shouldn't Try to Copycat Its Way to Educational Success

September 10, 2015

It is common to hear how the United States lags behind so many other countries when it comes to standardized testing results. The response has been to put more effort into improving testing scores in an effort to match South Korea or Singapore.

Unfortunately, trying to measure up to the best test-takers does not necessarily benefit America's educational system or its economy, instead it forces students to start taking tests at younger ages.

What most Americans don't realize is that students in countries such as South Korea, where the college entrance exam dominates school life, actually faces harm by such intense test preparation.

South Korea is often held up as an example of character and discipline, however:

  • Students there regularly spend a full day in school, followed by tutoring lessons and finish the day doing homework.
  • As a consequence, most students lack adequate sleep.
  • In addition, student suicide rates are among the highest in the world.
  • A study found high dropout rate among Korean students in American universities because they had a hard time fitting in the school culture.

America, to a certain extent, has adopted this testing culture, focusing on memorization and quick recall. Both No Child Left Behind and Race to The Top stress teach-to-the-test strategies but educational leaders in the United States should ask themselves if that is the kind of culture they want for the nation's youth.

A better strategy would be to emphasize a method of evaluation that stresses critical thinking such as team exercises and cross-disciplinary problem-solving.

Source: Tony Wagner and Ted Dintersmith,"The U.S. shouldn't try to copycat its way to educational success


" Washington Examiner, August 26, 2015.

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