Are American Students Unprepared for the Global Economy?
On Tuesday, December 4, 2007, six national organizations will co-host a briefing at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. At it, the findings of the 2006 Programme for International Student Assessments (PISA) will be presented in detail by Andreas Schleicher, head of the indicators and analysis division, OECD Directorate for Education. Comments and analysis of the implications for U.S. educational policy will be provided by leaders of the co-hosting organizations: Roy Romer, chairman, ED in ’08; Ray Scheppach, executive director, National Governors Association; Vivien Stewart, vice president, education, Asia Society; Susan Traiman, director, education and workforce policy, Business Roundtable; Gene Wilhoit, executive director, Council of Chief State School Officers; and Bob Wise, president, Alliance for Excellent Education.
The PISA has been given every three years since 2000 to fifteen-year-olds in the thirty member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and in twenty-seven partner countries. Students are tested in reading and in mathematical and scientific literacy to assess whether they have “acquired the knowledge and skills essential in everyday life,” according to the OECD. The 2006 results, which concentrate on students’ scientific literacy, will be released earlier on December 4 by the OECD, in Paris. (Math and reading results are included in the results that will be reviewed at this event; however, a printing error resulted in a decision not to include U.S. students’ reading results for 2006 in the 2007 report.)
International comparisons are increasingly relevant and important to understand in today’s global environment. No longer do the residents of American cities and states vie only with each other for jobs; their competitors are located in countries around the world. Economists and social scientists agree that, increasingly, the educational abilities of a nation’s workforce will significantly impact its ability to remain economically strong. The students of today and tomorrow must be able to read and write well; they must have strong skills and knowledge of math and science. If they do not, the future well-being of the United States is in jeopardy.
But American students have been falling behind their peers in nations around the globe. In 2003, when the last PISA results were released, U.S. students ranked (among the twenty-nine OECD member countries included in the assessment): fifteenth in reading, twenty-fourth in mathematics, and nineteenth in science literacy. Although limited preliminary results for the 2006 PISA were released earlier this week, the bulk of the data will be released for the first time on December 4. More importantly, this event will focus on what other countries are doing to improve their systems and rankings, while the United States stays static. What lessons the United States can learn from these higher-performing countries will also be explored.
This event will provide a unique opportunity for the media, policymakers, educators, the business community, and other concerned citizens to be part of an important discussion about what can be done to improve the performance of U.S. students.
Visit Losing Our Edge: Are American Students Unprepared for the Global Economy? to access audio, video and materials from the event.
Alliance for Excellent Education
|Paul R. Ferrari
Council of Chief State School Officers
ED in ’08
National Governors Association