Blog: The Educated Reporter

Education Week: U.S. Schools Not Ready For Global Competition

When I was on the daily news beat, there were a handful of annual reports that I relied on to help me do my job. Education Week’s “Quality Counts” digest was always one of them.

The latest installment is “The Global Challenge: Education in a Competitive World.” Ed Week’s staff looks at how the pressure to compete globally is impacting the business of schooling at the local, state and national level. It’s a thoughtful — and hugely valuable – resource for anyone who’s thinking and writing about these issues.

The report grades states based on a host of factors, from school spending to adult outcomes to current levels of K-12 student achievement. The findings in many states, unfortunately, are not encouraging.

Like most people, I tend to look for my home state whenever I’m presented with a national rankings of any sort. I’ve only been here in D.C. a few months and it’s not quite home yet (although I have reached the point of rolling my eyes at tourists who can’t figure out the “stand on the right, walk on the left” rule for the Metro escalators). When it comes to meeting the “Global Challenge,” my previous home state of Nevada earned a “C-” grade. Massachusetts, where I spent the first half of my life, fared significantly better with a solid “B.”

Education Week gave Massachusetts an “A” in school accountability, and its students also had an “A” when it came to their chance for future success.

I’m often asked why Massachusetts often scores so highly in these types of rankings. There are several reasons, one of them being the state’s standards are relatively high when it comes to expectations for K-12 students. Massachusetts has also done a good job responding to problems in its core curriculum (the state’s implementation of more rigorous high school exit exams, and the resulting adjustments when many students failed to demonstrate proficiency, is just one example).

The Bay State fell short on college readiness (D-) but earned another “A” grade for the economy and workforce. That’s an interesting disconnect that I hope some local state reporters will explore.

Tomorrow I’ll share some ideas and resources for looking at the bigger picture when it comes to student demographics, including how a child’s family life can be a significant influence on – and predictor of — academic success.


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