We know how to improve schools (but we’re not doing it)

Amanda Ripley with a really nice column on the latest international comparisons on PISA tests.  Lots of good stuff in here, but this strikes me as the key nugget:

Here’s what the models show: Generally speaking, the smartest countries tend to be those that have acted to make teaching more prestigious and selective; directed more resources to their neediest children; enrolled most children in high-quality preschools; helped schools establish cultures of constant improvement; and applied rigorous, consistent standards across all classrooms.

Of all those lessons learned, the United States has employed only one at scale: A majority of states recently adopted more consistent and challenging learning goals, known as the Common Core State Standards, for reading and math. These standards were in place for only a year in many states, so Mr. Schleicher did not expect them to boost America’s PISA scores just yet.

Hmmm.  Nothing about charter schools, vouchers, merit pay, evaluating teachers based on student test scores.  None of these things are really all that hard (nor, are these summary findings really new), so let’s do them.  For starters, let’s start paying teachers a ton more.  I guarantee you the prestige and selectivity will follow.  Oh, and let’s not spend the most money on where the richest students live and the least where the poorest live.  We can do this stuff; it’s just a matter of political willpower.  And not being distracted by shiny baubles that are not a scalable solution (yes, I’m looking at you charter schools and vouchers).  Oh, yeah, and leave the Common Core alone!

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About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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