Matching Up States, Countries Offers Fresh Perspective
Comparing Finland and Minnesota may be more apt than looking nation to nation, testing experts say, but the analysis needs to go beyond just scores
As concern over America's competitiveness abroad intensifies, education officials in the U.S. are beginning to consider using individual states and districts—not just the nation as a whole—as the units against which to measure their international peers.
In everything from population demographics to curriculum adoption, a country like Finland may be more comparable to an individual state like Minnesota than it is to the heterogeneous expanse of the United States—leading some policymakers and researchers to reason that such state-to-country comparisons can better highlight educational practices.
Yet education and testing experts warn that if such comparisons are to be useful, educators must go beyond basic test rankings to understand how countries' specific policies and practices can make U.S. students more competitive. Some states, such as Massachusetts and Minnesota, are already comparing both their student achievement and educational practices to those of other countries via international...
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