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Education Opinion

Economic Impact of Achievement Gaps

By LeaderTalk Contributor — April 28, 2009 1 min read

From the McKinsey Consulting Company comes another report (last month I wrote about What World’s Best School Systems Do). This report is entitled “The Economic Impact of the Achievement Gap in America’s Schools.” This report utilizes the Program for International Student Assessment results. This test measures student achievement at age 15 in math and science. We rank 25th in math and 24th in science among 30 nations participating.

A couple of quotes from the study should get you interested in reviewing the work (just Google McKinsey Consulting and then search for the report on the social section of the web page).

“Avoidable shortfalls in academic achievement impose heavy and often tragic consequences, via lower earning, poorer health, and higher rates of incarceration.”

“If the United States had in recent years closed the gap between its educational achievement levels and those of better-performing nations such as Finland and Korea, GDP in 2008 could have been between $1.3 trillion to $2.3 trillion higher.”

“These educational gaps impose on the United States the economic equivalent of a permanent national recession.”

“The wide variation in performance among schools serving similar students suggest that these gaps can be closed. Race and poverty are not destiny.”

Thomas Friedman in a nationally syndicated column (April 23) reported that according to the study, our fourth graders do well in international comparisons. However, our high school kids really lag. Which means, “the longer our children are in school; the worse they perform compared to their international peers.”

“There are millions of kids who are in modern suburban schools who don’t realize how far behind they are. They are being prepared for $12 an hour jobs - not $40 or $50 an hour jobs,” Matt Miller (author of study)

Bottom line for educators should be that we review the Pygmalion Effect. If we believe children can learn to high levels regardless of race and poverty, then they will. If we do not believe they can, then they will not!!!! Believe in public education. Believe in teachers. Believe in educational leaders and let’s get the job done. Our very future depends on our ability to raise the levels of learning of all children.

Terry Holliday
Superintendent
Iredell-Statesville Schools

The opinions expressed in LeaderTalk are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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