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United States Lags Behind in Global Test Scores? Who Cares!

Bad press about America’s failing schools and low test scores comes in phases. But the United States has never led as a nation in top global test scores and it just doesn’t matter in terms of economic status.

This article from Forbes explains why. Gregory Ferenstein says, “Research has consistently shown that on nearly every measure of education (instructional hours, class size, enrollment, college preparation), what students learn in school does not translate into later life success. The United States has an abundance of the factors that likely do matter: access to the best immigrants, economic opportunity, and the best research facilities.”

I’m not sure I’d go so far as to say that. I value my education and I do think critical thinking skills can be taught and creativity can be encouraged at school. And it is in just these areas that America does lead as a nation globally.

Even though students in China receive twice as many instructional hours, the United States ties with them in scientific reasoning scores. The ability to reason and think through problems is the key to innovation, which the United States lead in.

Ferenstein also explains, “Determination, raw intelligence, and creativity are the measures of a successful college student and employee — none of those factors are learned in school.”

In spite of the notoriously low math and science test scores we always hear about, the United States has one of the highest percentages of top-performing students in the world. Those top performers are treated well and have a lot of opportunities to work for or start successful companies.

Combine those top performers with a high tolerance of risk-taking and a business-friendly environment and a company like Apple can flourish.

Of course we can and should do better on our academic fronts, but the supposed failure of our school system is probably not the root of our economic woes.

Read about my daughter’s middle school becoming the first public Smart School, here.
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