Wednesday, September 21, 2011

us education rankings

It's become a standard talking point that the US education system ranks low in international test scores. I guess I always had a problem with that stylized fact. First of all, there's always an issue of who gets tested--the US has less tracking than other countries where people often get shunted off into vocational education at an early age--though the tests are supposed to account for that. There's also the question of what gets tested. In a (admittedly less reliable CivEd test of civics education), the US ranks quite high, despite conventional wisdom. Finally there's the question of why focus on Math and Science scores alone. The same advocates who use these math and science rankings are also often the same ones that lament education reforms that focus on math and science. What about music and art and sports and things that foster teamwork and innovation and creativity. Where are the rankings for that? By revealed preferences, there is greater movement in the world toward the US style education system than away from it.

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