Archive for the ‘International Advisory Group’ Category

Delaware, the U.S., and the Global Report Card: What it Means

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An often-unpredictable 2016 came to a close with some status-quo scores and glimmers of promise in science for U.S. students on the Program for International Assessment (PISA), a “global report card” of student achievement.

The PISA is administered every three years to 15-year-old students around the world, assessing their knowledge and ability to think critically in math, reading and science. While student success is about more than just test scores, PISA performance is one of the few benchmarks we have for comparing school systems globally.


Why do we care about the “global report card?”

PISA performance is a bellwether for a country’s economic potential and global competitiveness. Research shows us a strong relationship between school quality and economic growth, as investments in quality public education often translate into workforce quality and fuel for economic growth. Given America’s typical middle-of-the-pack performance, we can view this correlation as an opportunity to cash in on the benefits of education for individuals and society by raising our academic performance to the level of global leaders like Finland, Japan, and Singapore. We can also view it as a threat to America’s economic wellbeing. In the words of the Council on Foreign Relations Task Force Report: “The United States’ failure to educate its students leaves them unprepared to compete and threatens the country’s ability to thrive in a global economy and maintain its leadership role.”

Evidence of equity and excellence. Top performing education systems like Canada, Denmark, Estonia, or Hong Kong (China) achieve high levels of performance and equity in education outcomes, dispelling the myth that equity means sacrificing excellence. There may be opportunities to learn from some of these top-performing education systems as the U.S. continues to struggle with equity and chronic opportunity gaps.

How did U.S. teens measure up to international peers?

Status quo scores in reading and science, with a dip in math. On the whole, there wasn’t anything stunning or shocking about U.S. PISA scores. Among the 35 countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)—comprised of America’s economic peers—U.S. performance in reading and science remained about average, but below average in math. In terms of overall ranking among the 72 participating countries, the U.S. remains close to the middle across all subjects.


The buzz about increased equity in science. While not much has changed in terms of overall student achievement in science, the U.S. has received a lot of attention for narrowing the equity gap. According to the OECD analysis of the influence of socio-economic factors on student performance, equity has improved drastically in the U.S. since 2006—leading other countries in its rate of progress. That being said, the U.S. remains only slightly above average in overall equity and performance in science, as countries like Canada and China continue to demonstrate that leading global education systems can achieve both.


What does U.S. performance mean for Delaware?

We can’t compare apples and oranges. Delaware students don’t take the PISA, and any attempts to compare Delaware to international peers based on statewide assessment results (like the SAT) would be invalid since they test different skills, knowledge, and student populations.

We can make an educated guess by using U.S. results as a proxy for Delaware’s global competitiveness. Given that Delaware students performed on par with students nationally on the NAEP, our best guess is that it is likely that U.S. results on the PISA reflect how Delaware students would perform if Delaware administered the assessment. Massachusetts’ leading performance on both the NAEP and PISA suggests that if Delaware could surpass Massachusetts, we would rank among the top 10 global education systems. This hypothesis is supported by an analysis by Erik Hanushek, cross-walking states’ 2012 NAEP results and countries 2011 PISA scores.


Student Success 2025: A Path Forward for Delaware

The Student Success 2025 plan outlines several measures of success, including  NAEP. At the end of the day, academic achievement is just one of them. In order to become a national and global leader in education, we must ensure Delaware children are prepared with the skills and attributes to thrive beyond by implementing Delaware’s vision for education—Student Success 2025.

The 2016 progress report highlights important progress from pre-k through postsecondary, and outlines short-term priorities for progress moving forward. Learn more about Student Success 2025 and Delawareans’ big ideas for implementation.


International Comparisons are Never Easy

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Earlier this month in The News Journal, a position was shared on the validity of comparing U.S. student performance with that of other countries. The debate centered on the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), and Shanghai’s top performance on that test vs. the United States’ mediocre performance.

Andreas Scheicher is the Deputy Director for Education and Skills, and Special Advisor on Education Policy to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD). The OECD is the organization that oversees the PISA. Schleicher is also a member of Rodel’s International Advisory Group.

There have been several claims in the past that high-performing countries on PISA perform well due to their lack of diversity, lack of poverty, or selectivity of students taking the exam (as is the critique for Shanghai’s results). Schleicher has responded in a number of articles in the past and also addressed some of these critiques when he was here in Delaware this past spring.

The main point is that systems can change. We agree that progress IS possible – as we have seen across our state, our country, and from the rest of the world. Instead of critiquing these comparisons and this progress, we should learn from whomever can illustrate success with our students, whether they are in our backyard, or on the other side of the ocean.

As Schleicher states, “International comparisons are never easy and they are never perfect. But ignoring the success of East Asian systems will be a major mistake. The world has become indifferent to tradition and past reputations, unforgiving of frailty and ignorant of customs of practice. Success will go to those individuals, institutions, and countries which are swift to adapt, slow to complain and open to change.”

Innovation in U.S. Classrooms: An international perspective

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At the end of last month, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) published a report examining innovative practices in classrooms around the world. The report, titled, “Measuring Innovation in Education,” examines innovative practices in schools and classrooms from an international perspective. (The report also features a Foreword by Andreas Schleicher, a member of the Rodel Foundation’s International Advisory Group.

Innovation in any sector is a crucial driver towards improvement. Particularly in this age of international competitiveness, innovation can be a distinguishing factor, helping a city, state, or country become or stay competitive with peers. “Measuring Innovation in Education” uses data from surveys of educators, students, employees, and employers around the world. The study authors used the survey data to create indices to measure both the amount of innovation occurring in classrooms around the world as well as the impact that innovation has had on student performance. Overall, when compared to countries around the world, the United States ranks near the bottom of the group studied in terms of its innovation in schools and classrooms.

OECD blog post

It is important to note, however, that just because a country ranks high on the OECD education innovation index does not necessarily translate into a higher-quality education system. To quote the study’s lead author Stephan Vincent-Lancrin, “Innovation is a means to an end. We need to think of it not as an indicator of performance itself, but something that will translate into better educational outcomes” (Molnar). So, there is room for the United States to increase the levels of innovative practices in schools and classrooms with the ultimate goal of improving student performance and student outcomes.

The report also noted the top five areas of innovation in schools and classrooms for each country included in the study. The United States was ranked high for its school-level innovations in the following areas:

1. Use of assessment data for monitoring school progress
2. Use of assessment data for use with district/national performance
3. Achievement data to inform parent on student performance
4. Changes in teacher evaluation practices at secondary level
5. Parental involvement on school committees

The United States was ranked high for its classroom-level innovations in the following areas:

1. Observe and describe in science
2. Use of individualized instruction in reading
3. Explain answers in math
4. Students relating math and science concepts to their lives
5. Text interpretation

Innovative practices like these and others will continue to be powerful methods of continuously improving not just our nation’s education system, but our nation’s overall global competitiveness. As innovative practices prove successful, they have the potential to affect the entire system and lead to stronger student results in the long term.

What are some innovative practices you have seen at work in Delaware’s schools and classrooms?

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