What can U.S. schools learn from top education systems in other countries?

June 27, 2017

A teacher works with students at the BASIS Independent School of Silicon Valley school, which uses an internationally benchmarked test for 15-year-olds to see how students measure up to peers worldwide.

To prepare students for an increasingly interconnected and global society, many countries have revamped their education systems to provide students with a 21st century education that has produced higher achievement and greater equity than U.S. schools, a new study has found.

The study of teaching quality in the world’s top-performing education systems reveals that one of the most important strategies to achieve these results is developing policies to ensure that every student receives high-quality teaching.

Photo: Fermin Leal/EdSource

Linda Darling-Hammond, president of the Learning Policy Institute, speaks at EdSource’s Symposium 2016 about California’s new accountability system.

Called “Empowered Educators,” the three-year study was led by education researcher Linda Darling-Hammond of the Learning Policy Institute, along with an international team of education researchers, with the support of the Center on International Benchmarking at the National Center on Education and the Economy, or NCEE. It investigated the states of New South Wales and Victoria in Australia, the provinces of Alberta and Ontario in Canada, the province of Shanghai in China, and the countries Singapore and Finland.

The study concluded that other countries have surpassed the U.S. in preparing their students to compete internationally by:
•    focusing on building effective systems, instead of trying to find silver bullets or short-term, narrowly-focused solutions to problems;
•   a commitment to “professionalizing teaching” as a well-respected occupation.

Study results have been published in “Empowered Educators: How High-Performing Systems Shape Teaching Quality Around the World,” along with five e-books that delve more deeply into each education system studied.

The NCEE hosted a recent national symposium with Darling-Hammond and education leaders from around the world to discuss the study. The webcast archives are available here. More information about the study and books is available at: http://ncee.org/empowered-educators/.

Schools can also find out how they stack up against their international peers by using the OECD Test for Schools, which is benchmarked to the Programme for International Student Assessment, or PISA test for 15-year-olds in reading, math and science.

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