Interesting. Short version: PISA is the “Programme for International Student Assessment”, it tests schools/kids from around the world. 65 nations entered. America ranked 14th in reading, 17th in science and 25th in math. Ouch. Nations that didn’t enter were mostly places like all of sub-Saharan Africa which routinely score badly on such tests; it’s safe to assume the US did better than Haiti, even if they didn’t take the test.
However… Someone looked at how kids performed in each nation by ethnic backgrounds within a country, and compared them across borders (i.e., compare American Chinese to Chinese in China, American whites to whites in Europe, Mexican-Americans to Mexicans in Mexico, etc). Quote:
Asian-Americans outperform all Asian students except for Shanghai-Chinese. White Americans outperform students from all 37 predominantly white nations except Finns, and U.S. Hispanics outperformed the students of all eight Latin American countries that participated in the tests.
African-American kids would have outscored the students of any sub-Saharan African country that took the test (none did) and did outperform the only black country to participate,Trinidad and Tobago, by 25 points.
Huh. That means that one (or both) of these two cherished narratives are false:
(a) American schools are abject failures for the amount of money we spend per student, and spending more money will fix the problem, or
(b) There are no real and significant racial /ethnic /cultural differences, and the low academic scores highly correlated with economic achievement of certain groups is the result of white racism, oppression, discrimination, etc.
You can lead a horse to water… etc., etc.
You can’t have it both ways with this analysis of the data. Personally, I think we should treat all people as individuals, and do what we can with / for them. Move to an ability-based class-placement system for most things rather than age-based.