Tag Archives: Achievement Growth International and U.S. State Trends in Student Performance

Important Harvard report about U.S. student achievement ranking

23 Jul

More and more, individuals with gravitas are opining about the American education system for reasons ranging from national security to economic competitiveness. In Condoleezza Rice and Joel Klein report about American Education, moi wrote:

The Council on Foreign Relations has issued the report, U.S. Education Reform and National Security. The chairs for the report are Joel I. Klein, News Corporation and Condoleezza Rice, Stanford University. Moi opined about the state of education in U.S. education failure: Running out of excuses https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/12/13/u-s-education-failure-running-out-of-excuses/ Education tends to be populated by idealists and dreamers who are true believers and who think of what is possible. Otherwise, why would one look at children in second grade and think one of those children could win the Nobel Prize or be president? Maybe, that is why education as a discipline is so prone to fads and the constant quest for the “Holy Grail” or the next, next magic bullet. There is no one answer, there is what works for a particular population of kids. https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/03/19/condoleezza-rice-and-joel-klein-report-about-american-education/


U.S. Education Reform and National Security

Publisher Council on Foreign Relations Press

Release Date March 2012

Price $15.00

108 pages
ISBN 978-0-87609-520-1
Task Force Report No. 68


Joy Resmovits of Huffington Post,Schools Report: Failing To Prepare Students Hurts National Security, Prosperity http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/19/schools-report-condoleezza-rice-joel-klein_n_1365144.html Now, there is another report, “Is the United States Catching Up? International and state trends in student achievement,” will be released by Harvard’s Program on Education Policy and Governance (PEPG).  Eric A. Hanushek, Paul E. Peterson, and Ludger Woessmann conducted the study, which is available at www.hks.harvard.edu/pepg/.  An article based on the report will appear in the Fall issue of Education Next and is available online at www.educationnext.org.

Here is the press release for Achievement Growth: International and U.S. State Trends in Student Performance:


Paul E. Peterson (617) 495-8312 pepeters@fas.harvard.edu Harvard University
Eric A. Hanushek  hanushek@stanford.edu Stanford University
Ludger Woessmann  woessmann@ifo.de University of Munich
Janice B. Riddell  (203) 912-8675  janice_riddell@hks.harvard.edu External Relations, Education Next

Student Achievement Gains in U.S. Fail to Close International Achievement Gap

U.S. ranks 25th out of 49 countries in student test-score gains over 14-year period, report 3 scholars at Harvard, Stanford and the University of Munich

CAMBRIDGE, MA – A new study of international and U.S. state trends in student achievement growth shows that the United States is squarely in the middle of a group of 49 nations in 4th and 8th grade test score gains in math, reading, and science over the period 1995-2009.

Students in three countries – Latvia, Chile, and Brazil – are improving at a rate of 4 percent of a standard deviation annually, roughly two years’ worth of learning or nearly three times that of the United States.  Students in another eight countries – Portugal, Hong Kong, Germany, Poland, Liechtenstein, Slovenia, Colombia, and Lithuania – are making gains at twice the rate of U.S. students.

The report, “Is the United States Catching Up? International and state trends in student achievement,” will be released by Harvard’s Program on Education Policy and Governance (PEPG).  Eric A. Hanushek, Paul E. Peterson, and Ludger Woessmann conducted the study, which is available at www.hks.harvard.edu/pepg/.  An article based on the report will appear in the Fall issue of Education Next and is available online at www.educationnext.org.

Compared to gains made by students in other countries, “progress within the United States is middling, not stellar,” notes Peterson, Harvard professor and PEPG director, with 24 countries trailing the U.S. rate of improvement and another 24 that appear to be improving at a faster rate.  While U.S. students’ performance on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) tests improved in absolute terms between 1995 and 2011, U.S. progress was not sufficiently rapid to allow it to catch up with the leaders of the industrialized world.

Rates of improvement varied among states.  Maryland had the steepest achievement growth trend, followed by Florida, Delaware, and Massachusetts.  Between 1992 and 2011, these states posted growth rates of 3.1 to 3.3 percent of a standard deviation annually, well over a full year’s worth of learning during the time period. The U.S. average of 1.6 standard deviations was about half that of the top states.

The other six states among the top ten improvers were Louisiana, South Carolina, New Jersey, Kentucky, Arkansas, and Virginia.  States with the largest gains are improving at two to three times the rate of states with the smallest gains – such as Iowa, Maine, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin.

The study raises questions about education goal setting in the United States, which “has often been utopian rather than realistic,” according to Eric Hanushek, who cites the 1990 Governors’ goal calling for the U.S. to be “first in the world in math and science by 2000” as an example.  More realistic expectations would call for states to move closer to annual growth rates of the most-improving states.  These gains would, over a 15-20 year period, “bring the United States within the range of the world’s leaders.”

Other findings include:

  • States in which students improved the most overall were also the states that had the largest percent reduction in students with very low achievement.
  • Southern states, which began to adopt education reform measures in the 1990s, outpaced Midwestern states, where school reform made little headway until very recently.  Five of the top 10 states were in the South and no southern states were in the bottom 18.
  • No significant correlation was found between increased spending on education and test score gains.  For example, Maryland, Massachusetts, and New Jersey posted large gains in student performance after boosting spending, but New York, Wyoming, and West Virginia had only marginal test-score gains to show from increased expenditures.

International results are based on 28 administrations of comparable math, science, and reading tests over the period 1995-2009.  The authors adjusted both the mean and the standard deviation of each international test, allowing them to estimate trends on the international tests on a common scale normed to the 2000 NAEP tests.  Student performance on 36 administrations of math, reading, and science tests in 41 U.S. states was examined over a 19-year period (1992-2011), allowing for a comparison of these states with each other.  For more information on the study and its methodology, please see an unabridged version of the report, which are available at www.hks.harvard.edu/pepg/ and at www.educationnext.org.

About the Authors

Eric A. Hanushek is senior fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University. Paul E. Peterson is the Henry Lee Shattuck Professor of Government at Harvard and director of Harvard’s Program on Education Policy and Governance.  Ludger Woessmann is head of the Department of Human Capital and Innovation at the Ifo Institute at the University of Munich.  The authors are available for interviews.

About Education Next

Education Next is a scholarly journal published by the Hoover Institution that is committed to looking at hard facts about school reform.  Other sponsoring institutions are the Harvard Program on Education Policy and Governance, part of the Taubman Center for State and Local Government at the Harvard Kennedy School, and the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation.

For more information on the Program on Education Policy and Governance contact Antonio Wendland at 617-495-7976, pepg_administrator@hks.harvard.edu, or visit www.hks.harvard.edu/pepg.


Achievement Growth:

International and U.S. State Trends in Student Performance

by Eric A. HanushekPaul E. Peterson Ludger Woessmann


See, U.S. Students Still Lag Behind Foreign Peers, Schools Make Little Progress In Improving Achievement http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/23/us-students-still-lag-beh_n_1695516.html?utm_hp_ref=education

Here is a portion of the concluding remarks from page 21:

The failure of the United States to close the international test-score gap, despite assiduous public assertions that every effort would be undertaken to produce that objective, raises questions about the nation’s overall reform strategy. Education goal setting in the United States has often been utopian rather than realistic. In 1990, the president and the nation’s governors announced the goal that all American students should graduate from high school, but two decades later only 75 percent of 9th-graders received their diploma within four years after entering high school. In 2002, Congress passed a law that declared that all students in all grades shall be proficient in math, reading, and science by 2014, but in 2012 most observers found that goal utterly beyond reach. Currently, the U.S. Department of Education has committed itself to ensuring that all students shall be college or career ready as they cross the stage on their high-school graduation day, another overly ambitious goal.

Perhaps the most unrealistic goal was that of the governors in 1990 when they called for the United States to achieve number-one ranking in the world in math and science by 2000. As this study shows, the United States is neither first nor is it catching up.

Consider a more realistic set of objectives for education policymakers, one that comes from our experience. If all U.S. states could increase their performance at the same rate as the highest-growth states—Maryland, Florida, Delaware, and Massachusetts—the U.S. improvement rate would be lifted by 1.5 percentage points of a std. dev. annually above the current trend line. Since student performance can improve at that rate in some countries and in some states, then, in principle, such gains can be made more generally. Those gains might seem small, but when viewed over two decades they accumulate to 30 percent of a std. dev., enough to bring the United States within the range of the world’s leaders—unless, of course, they, too, continue to improve.

Such progress need not come at the expense of either the lowest-performing or the highest-performing students. In most states, a rising tide lifted all boats. Only in a few instances did the tide rise while leaving a disproportionate number stuck at the bottom, and most, if not all of the time, the high flyers moved ahead as well.

The increased rate of poverty has profound implications if this society believes that ALL children have the right to a good basic education. Moi blogs about education issues so the reader could be perplexed sometimes because moi often writes about other things like nutrition, families, and personal responsibility issues. Why? The reader might ask? Because children will have the most success in school if they are ready to learn. Ready to learn includes proper nutrition for a healthy body and the optimum situation for children is a healthy family. Many of societies’ problems would be lessened if the goal was a healthy child in a healthy family. There is a lot of economic stress in the country now because of unemployment and underemployment. Children feel the stress of their parents and they worry about how stable their family and living situation is.

Teachers and schools have been made TOTALLY responsible for the education outcome of the children, many of whom come to school not ready to learn and who reside in families that for a variety of reasons cannot support their education. All children are capable of learning, but a one-size-fits-all approach does not serve all children well. Different populations of children will require different strategies and some children will require remedial help, early intervention, and family support to achieve their education goals.


Report from Center for American Progress report: Kids say school is too easy                                              https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/07/10/report-from-center-for-american-progress-report-kids-say-school-is-too-easy/

Complete College America report: The failure of remediation https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/06/21/complete-college-america-report-the-failure-of-remediation/

Book: Inequality in America affects education outcome https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/06/10/book-inequality-in-america-affects-education-outcome/

What exactly are the education practices of top-performing nations?                                       http://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/05/28/what-exactly-are-the-education-practices-of-top-performing-nations/

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©