Federal Report Roundup

U.S. Urged to Shed ‘Tunnel Vision’

By David J. Hoff — March 31, 2009 1 min read

The United States has “tunnel vision” when it comes to comparing the performance of its students, its educational expectations of students, and policies affecting every level of education, the Alliance for Excellent Education writes in a new policy brief.

While other countries “eagerly compare” themselves against their peers, the report says, the United States “ignores the opportunities to learn from its international peers in education.”

The Washington-based group says the United States should increase its participation in testing and policy research conducted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a Paris-based organization of developed countries, including the United States.

Expanding the amount of international benchmarking will be an important step in setting common, or national, standards, a process that President Obama and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan say they want to promote and support.

While the United States, as a whole, participates in the OECD’s Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA, no U.S. states or cities provide big enough samples to be able to take part in that study on their own. In many OECD countries, provinces and cities participate in PISA to compare their results against other countries’, says the alliance, a nonprofit group that advocates policies to improve the quality of high schools.

The OECD also offers other research studies to measure the quality of teachers and school leaders, higher education policies, and overviews of national education policies. But the U.S. doesn’t provide data for such studies, the alliance says.

Other countries actively use the research and the OECD’s consulting services to help improve and refine their policies, according to the brief.

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A version of this article appeared in the April 01, 2009 edition of Education Week

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