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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

We're no. 17!

The U.S. education system, that is, in this ranking of school systems in developed nations. The winners? Finland and South Korea. The U.K. comes in at no. 6.

Comments (18)

"These comparisons draw upon tests that are taken every three or four years, in areas such as maths, science and literacy"

Not so fast - That's the problem, they're using tests to measure student performance (god only hopes they aren't using them to evaluate teacher performance!) They should be asking the administrators in each country how well the students are doing, then the USA would be number one.

It's well known test results should be totally disregraded as a measure of learning. In Portland, we call it the $40M difference.

I'd be curious on the amount of $ spent on each student in each country to see if there is a correlation.

RE: Correlation

It is clear; the more we spend on schools, the lower in the rankings we go.

The solution of course is to spend more actually educating our students.

We've been spending way too much so far on making our students feel good.

To top it all off Oregon is 4th from the bottom in high school graduation rates. I think I saw that the Reynolds district is graduating 48% and Portland is something like 63%. It's pathetic how badly we are failing our kids in this state, and most of the problem is right here under our nose in the major metropolitan area.

Steve, this USC posting from 2011 has some pretty good graphs which might answer your questions. Not sure how they gathered their data..


The harsh reality is if you took the test scores for Koreans living in the US and Northern Europeans living in the US and compared them to the Korean and Finnish tests scores, the US would probably beat the pants off of Korea and Finland. The explanations for the comparisons of averages have more to do with demographics and culture than anything else.

It is not just the amounts of dollars....it is the way I which they are spent.
Money for needless layers administration instead of teachers, more money spent on new buildings when hiring teachers, and reducing class sizes, are only some of what is needed; and it would be advisable to take a good look at the pension and seemingly endless golden parachute programs that the administrators get too!
But what do I know? I am just a taxpayer!

Newleaf is correct.

The goal shouldn't be to drive up average test scores across diverse student groups. The goal should be to give each student an opportunity for education that best fits his or her talents, aspirations and realistic goals and reflects opportunities that will be available looking 10 to 20 years down the road as well as present needs. What the US education system lacks is sufficient attention to designing different curricula and programs to serve a diverse population. When I lived back in the DC area, I criticized the schools there for operating as if every kid was destined to be a Foreign Service officer. STEM, Vocational/Techinical and career oriented programs were sadly absent or underdeveloped and inadequately designed. That's pretty much universal throughout the US.

Okay educators and school board members, pay no more attention. Go back to teaching to the test.

"this USC posting"

Nice we spend 2x/student what Korea does and 50% more than Finland.

"What the US education system lacks is sufficient attention to designing different curricula and programs to serve a diverse population."

That's probably true in Korea and Finland also.

I don't disagree with that since I think if schools spent a lot more effort on allow students to self-teach (a la Khan Academy or similar) and then actually managing the learning process, it'd be a lot better than going the speed of the slowest kid in the classroom.

"the US would probably beat the pants off of Korea and Finland"

I wouldn't be so sure of that knowing Koreans who spent time in school here and in Korea. I'd say the university level is better (for the time being, but India, Korea and China are catching up fast), but pre-college is not.

I find it interesting that the country with the largest war machine by a factor of 5 or 6 AND the largest bankster cartel produces the worst outcome per dollar.

The game is rigged and we are winning the race to the bottom. Young folks can sense they are being screwed.

The elites are getting exactly the outcome they desire. Blaiming administrators is looking at the issue much too narrowly.

My knowledge is dated: our son went to school in Australia for year 1 and the UK for years 2 through 5 in the 90s, coming to the states for grades 6 to graduation. The system in the UK was shockingly bad; he went to a state school (“public” schools are the private schools there), and in those 4 years was never issued a single text book. That’s right – it was all off the chalk board or copies of pages from books/workbooks. His three teachers ranged from adequate to horrid (he had one teacher twice), with the worst being literally addicted to pain meds for her bad back. She would fall asleep in class. Though there were complaints nothing was done – the NUT held sway and she was a very senior teacher. (National Union of Teachers) Note this was a distinctly working class school, many council housing kids, just up the street from heavy industry. The school was much safer than it should have been (the local ‘junior high’ was notorious for violence), because the head master was extraordinary: he literally laid down the law about bullying/violence and tolerated none of it. Kids who bullied/fought were quickly kicked out. (It was rough in its way though; seeing 8 year olds slide tackle and aim balls at the opponent was a shock, but made the players tough!) There was a public school nearby – cool sign said it was founded in 1548 (iirc). Not cool price, it would have run over 6,000 pounds (about $10,000 back then) for a 2nd grader per school year. So it’s not that there weren’t other schools available, they just weren’t available to anyone of modest means.

(We didn’t let him languish, in practical terms my wife home schooled him while he also went to school. We moved here, to LO, and our son did very well in these schools once he settled in culturally.)

Anyway, that experience makes me wary of reports such as this. Everyone, myself included, thought that an ‘English Education’ would be so sophisticated and far ahead of the ‘provincial’ American system. Nothing could have been further from the truth.

You mean...Streetcars don't equate to educational success? Time for Metro to put the spin on that!

"Blaiming administrators is looking at the issue much too narrowly."

I kinda thought the issue was schools and that the administrators were running them with the goal of turning out the best product? I'd like to think they have some responsibility to come up with an improvement plan if not to catch up with Korea or Finland.

I mean we can blame whoever we want, but at the end of the day, if other countries have a better educated populace, we will lose ground.

At the end of a lot of days now, a lot of other countries have a better educated populace. Didn't Thomas Friedman start writing about this years ago? I'm sure it's gotten only worse.

This is yesterday's report that Usual Kevin was referencing. Quite damning. Oregon is 4th from the bottom overall, and absolute bottom nationwide for graduation rates of white students. I don't think anyone can say that's for lack of per-capita funding or teacher pay & benefits.


Only gotten worse? You're talking about Friedman's writing, right?

What's fascinating to me is that the top two systems are so completely different and yet both are considered successful. Finland's system has no standardized testing, de-emphasizes ability ranking and considers itself a child-centered. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/people-places/Why-Are-Finlands-Schools-Successful.html South Korea, on the other hand, emphasizes long hours, rote memorization and standardized testing, culminating in the do-or-die College Scholastic Aptitude Test. http://www.economist.com/node/21541713

For fun you might try taking this abbreviated version of the Korean CSAT and see if you could get into college in South Korea: http://askakorean.blogspot.com/2011/11/can-you-go-to-college-in-korea-take.html

Apologies for not footnoting all of my sources and I'm NOT part of the Education Industry. Let me review a few disjointed facts in addition to the U.S. # 17 national educational ranking mentioned above.

I recall that PPS spends $ 12-$ 14,000 (all funds) per year per student.

The State Oregon graduates 63% of HS students.

Of THOSE graduating H.S. students, only a very few can write a cohesive letter, post an understandable opinion on a blog, have any useful sense of history, possess a knowledge of failed civilizations or have any comprehension of finance or economic systems past or present.

Perhaps we should do MORE of what we have been doing?

In what other business would it be acceptable to spend that much, have a 37% rejection rate, and those that pass final inspection be of such marginal quality and NO ACCOUNTABILITY?

I mean OTHER than in unionized public school education? (No fair comparing the failure rate or costs to unionized public correctional institutions)

I forgot to include this non original tag line for the above post:


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