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The See-Saw of Education: The Suprising Reasons Why Other Nations Outperform the US

What, you say? Yesterday it was push-pull and today it’s see-saw? What will it be tomorrow???

Tomorrow? Well, maybe I will use a phrase that Rob Horowitz and I used to bandy about: the churn.

I am a big fan of Valerie Strauss’s blog in the Washington Post: The Answer Sheet.

It doesn’t hurt that she has from time-to-time pointed towards Dewey21C, but really, it’s because of posts like the one I am going to direct you to, that I really admire her work.

She’s posted a guest blog by William J. Mathis, Managing Director of The National Education Policy Center.

Click here to read Test Scores and Economic Competitiveness.

Now, I didn’t write this piece, so, I am only the messenger. That being said, don’t be too frustrated if you find that it affirms an overemphasis on test scores, while at the same time challenging some of the arguments arts education advocates have been deploying regarding the workforce of the 21st century.

Perhaps the most important take away, is what most if not all advocates I know believe about the arts, that ultimately it is an equity issue:

Unfortunately, the United States has become the most inequitable of
the developed nations — a very dubious number one ranking. The simple
arithmetic shows that we will remain low-scorers as long as we
perpetuate huge economic disparities and inequalities in the quality of
schooling we provide. Number one ranked Finland has 3% poverty while the
United States has over 25% poverty.

It is the scores of our most needy children that pull our national
average down. One of the reasons that other nations are catching up and
surpassing us is because they are building their middle class while the
United States is pursuing policies that destroy theirs.

The highest scoring international states have high resiliency scores,
which is based on the link between socioeconomic levels and test
scores. That is, do children boot-strap their way up through education?
The United States has among the worst resiliency rates.

And here’s one more just for good luck, but please, click on through to the other side:

High stakes standardized tests narrow and dumb the curriculum. Social
studies, science, art and music instruction have been reduced by a third
in some states. If it is testable in a standardized way, it is unlikely
to measure the knowledge, flexibility and creativity needed for a new
and uncertain age.

an ArtsJournal blog