Center on Education Policy Newsletter


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Behind in Assessment and Losing the Shame Game

Author(s): Maria Ferguson
Published: March 4, 2014

When the most recent PISA scores were released last fall, there was a flurry of headlines about America’s stagnant public schools. American students were characterized as being asleep at the wheel and in need of a major wake-up call. If we really wanted the public to look closer and try to understand why PISA, NAEP and other kinds of assessments are important, we would need to do more than just shame public schools. We would need to have a thoughtful and nuanced conversation about why some education systems have been able to improve student performance and others have not. We would have to look at culture, resources, leadership, teacher training and national sentiment. We would have to analyze gaps of all kinds, not just achievement. And we would have to use the information to help teachers and education leaders understand why others are making progress without humiliating them in the comparison.

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