When A Nation at Risk was published just over a quarter-century ago, the report warned of other nations’ surpassing the United States as lackluster performance was causing this country’s education system to fall behind. While its conclusions are still debated, many policymakers, educators, and business leaders express similar worries these days. As one remedy, they are urging that American students’ knowledge be measured against that of their peers around the world.
In concluding its yearlong series on the impact of the 1983 report of the National Commission on Excellence in Education, Education Week decided to look at what three countries have done and are doing to improve student achievement:
Australia: This country likely has more similarities with the United States than any other—school system structure, language, challenges serving disadvantaged students, equity issues, strong teachers’ unions, and national assessments in reading and math. And now, it is introducing a national curriculum.
Slovenia: Since gaining its independence in 1991, this part of the former Yugoslavia has made major strides to become one of the top performers on international exams in Europe.
South Korea: The East Asian nation ranks near the top on international mathematics and science exams.
Special coverage marking the 25th anniversary of the landmark report A Nation at Risk is supported in part by a grant from the Broad Foundation.
A version of this article appeared in the April 22, 2009 edition of Education Week as Global Strategies