Apples, Oranges, and Scores on Standardized Tests

I wrote a few weeks ago about the Public Service Announcement from Strong American Schools that exonerates U.S. schools for their role in the migration of  “good jobs” to countries with “the best schools”, such as Finland and South Korea.

One need go no further than today’s NYT to be reminded that simplistic comparisons of test scores tell us only a part of the story.  South Korea — with its tradition of cram schools in which students are subjected to drills  for 18 hours a day,  where suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people between the ages of 10-19, where life choices are seriously constrained by  scores on a single exam and where, consequently,  private spending on education is exceptionally high– does indeed produce higher average test scores than the U.S.

So, uhm,  what exactly is it that Strong American Schools people would have educators in U.S. schools learn from South Korean schools?

Especially about underfunded public schools that leave behind exactly the children whose parents are faltering in the stratified U.S. economy?

5 thoughts on “Apples, Oranges, and Scores on Standardized Tests

  1. peggysemingson August 18, 2008 / 9:52 am

    Yes, it’s an unfair comparison. I’m tired of the sound-bite critiques of the schools. The article brought tears to my eyes, that the pressure is that intense.

  2. Joe S. August 30, 2008 / 5:42 am

    Wow… I had no idea that kids undergo that kind of pressure in foreign schools. It does make sense though, because all you ever hear is how people from other countries are taking American’s jobs and are better educated. Well, I think anybody in that disposition would be the better employee because of the fear of failure. America has always been the land of that “second chance,” and I could only imagine how my performance on a single exam would determine my destiny.
    God Bless America!

  3. SammyJay August 30, 2008 / 1:38 pm

    I agree that there is a massive amount of pressure put on kids in school. One test should not determine your future. Most kids panic and feel too much pressure for test like the ACT and PSAT that they freeze and boom the test. There is no need for young adults to feel this much pressure.

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