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Global grade: How do U.S. students compare?

How do U.S. students compare to students in other countries? It's not as bad as some say, but there is room for improvement.

By Marian Wilde

The United States may be a superpower but in education we lag behind. In a recent comparison of academic performance in 57 countries, students in Finland came out on top overall. Finnish 15-year-olds did the best in science and came in second in math. Other top-performing countries were: Hong Kong, Canada, Taiwan, Estonia, Japan and Korea.

How did the U.S. do?

Students in the United States performed near the middle of the pack. On average 16 other industrialized countries scored above the United States in science, and 23 scored above us in math. The reading scores for the United States had to be tossed due to a printing error.

Experts noted that the United States' scores remained about the same in math between 2003 and 2006, the two most recent years the test — the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) — was given. Meanwhile, many other nations, Estonia and Poland being two, improved their scores and moved past the U.S.

Researchers also made note of the fact that while the United States has one of the biggest gaps between high- and low-performing students in an industrialized nation, Finland has one of the smallest. Students in Finland perform remarkably well, regardless of the school they attend.

What makes Finland so hot?

Finland's stellar performance has drawn the attention of education and government officials around the world. These experts have uncovered many attributes of the Finnish educational system that are distinctive and contribute to the success of Finnish students. Some of these features are:

  • The Finnish school system uses the same curriculum for all students (which may be one reason why Finnish scores varied so little from school to school).
  • Students have light homework loads.
  • Finnish schools do not have classes for gifted students.
  • Finland uses very little standardized testing.
  • Children do not start school until age 7.
  • Finland has a comprehensive preschool program that emphasizes "self-reflection" and socializing, not academics.
  • Grades are not given until high school, and even then, class rankings are not compiled.
  • Teachers must have master's degrees.
  • Becoming a teacher in Finland is highly competitive. Just 10% of Finnish college graduates are accepted into the teacher training program; as a result, teaching is a high-status profession. (Teacher salaries are similar to teacher salaries in the U.S., however.)
  • Students are separated into academic and vocational tracks during the last three years of high school. About 50% go into each track.
  • Diagnostic testing of students is used early and frequently. If a student is in need of extra help, intensive intervention is provided.
  • Groups of teachers visit each others' classes to observe their colleagues at work. Teachers also get one afternoon per week for professional development.
  • School funding is higher for the middle school years, the years when children are most in danger of dropping out.
  • College is free in Finland.

Says Professor Jouni Välijärvi of the Institute for Educational Research at the University of Jyväskylä, and Project Manager of PISA for Finland, "In light of the PISA data, Finnish schools manage to activate learning among the whole age cohort more effectively than any other country. Students are not sorted into different groups or schools but different types of learners are learning together. In this kind of setting high achieving students seem to serve as positive models for their less advanced classmates. The pedagogy differs from that applied in systems characterized by tracking and streaming. Efforts are made to provide instruction to cater to the needs of different learners in terms of their skills and interests."

Preschool education — a relatively new addition to the Finnish toolkit — has been part of their educational system for the past 10 years. According to Välijärvi, "Preschools are nonacademic in the sense that no clear academic targets are set. Socialization into school culture and learning to work together with children is the central role. Preschool is not compulsory in Finland, but 96-97% of the children go to it."

Is it fair to compare the U.S. to tiny Finland or other homogeneous nations?

Finnish educational practices may provide clues to improvement for the United States, but taken together they do not constitute a magical pill that will cure our educational blues. For one thing, Finland has a vastly more homogeneous population than the United States. Very few students in Finland speak a language at home other than Finnish. In the U.S., on the other hand, 8% of children are English language learners, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

"Neither major nations such as those belonging to the G7 or G8 group (the main economic competitors of the U.S.), nor the vast majority of nations participating in international education surveys, have populations as diverse as the U.S.," says Erling E. Boe, Professor of Education and Co-Director of the Center for Research and Evaluation in Social Policy at the University of Pennsylvania. "Only the U.S. collects survey data for the race/ethnicity of students in the study samples. Canada, for example, has a substantial minority group (East Asians), but no data on such Asians as compared with Caucasians. The U.S. has sizable minority groups of Black and Hispanic students that do poorly in international comparisons and lower overall average scores for the U.S., while East Asians generally perform at a high level in math and science achievement. Therefore, it is possible that the overall scores for Canada are enhanced by its East Asian minority population."

Another area where Finland is homogeneous is in school funding. All of Finland's schools receive the same per-pupil funding, in contrast to the United States where school funding is based upon a complex formula that uses a local-funding component and creates inequities between affluent and poor communities.

Välijärvi believes that some educational choices can produce results regardless of the demographics of a country. "During the last 20 to 30 years most of the industrialized countries have invested huge amounts of money and intelligence on external evaluations and standardized tests. Finland has not. Finland has invested in teacher education," he says. "I dare to say that the profit of the Finnish investments has been greater."

New trends in international comparisons

One of the most interesting new trends in international comparisons is the effort by some policy groups to compare individual states — rather than the United States as a whole — with other countries. This is seen as a way to pressure state governments to improve education. It also highlights the discrepancy in education that exists within the U.S.

The National Governors Association, the Council of Chief State School Officers, and Achieve, an education advocacy organization, are researching ways to compare states with other countries to tease out information on best practices and global competitiveness.

The first such study linked the U.S. National Educational Assessment of Progress (NAEP) results with TIMSS results and produced such interesting comparisons as:

  • Students in Massachusetts, one of the highest performing states, are on par with students in Japan in math.
  • In science, students in Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont and Wisconsin are behind students in Singapore and Taiwan only, but are equal to or ahead of students in the other 45 countries in the TIMSS.
  • Students in the District of Columbia had the lowest math scores in the U.S., putting them behind students in 29 countries, but ahead of 14 countries.
  • Students in Alabama, a low-performing state, do better in math and science than students in most foreign countries.

The study analyzed the scores of eighth-grade American students in standardized tests given by the U.S. Department of Education in 2005 and 2007, and compared them with their peers in 45 countries. The foreign students' scores came from TIMSS administered worldwide in 2003.

Although the report warns that the U.S. is falling behind in preparing future generations to be globally competitive, the subtitle is 8th Graders in Most U.S. States Performing Better in Math and Science than Students in Most Foreign Countries.

We're still #1 in global competitiveness

The World Economic Forum ranks the United States as number one out of 131 nations in global competitiveness, using primary and higher education as part of its calculations. While it's true that other nations are challenging our position - for example, India with its economic ascension in recent years — the United States is stronger in primary and secondary education than many of these countries. The United States attempts to deliver an adequate and equal education through high school to all of its citizens. India, although it produces many scientists and engineers, provides a low-quality primary and secondary education to much of its population. Just 40% of children in India enter high school.


Comments from GreatSchools.org readers

07/9/2012:
"I just think that Talented and Gifted kids shouldn't be rewarded for being naturally talented. I think that education is a huge problem. Its not the teachers, its not the principals, and no way in heck is money the problem. Its the ways we set up our schools. The teachers should be fired for indecent conduct straight away. Only 2 of 10 teachers are fired for misconduct. I don't like how gifted class is even there. I think that special classes are like burdens. The students need to be challenged, to have a goal to make good grades. I think that students who have special classes are limited to their ability. They're special for a reason. Put them to their full potential. I think that US needs to stop wasting money when its not the problem, stop meddling with other countries, and need to pay attention to the FUTURE OF OUR PEOPLE! "
04/17/2012:
"Great article. Thanks. Two questions: how many hours per week do 7-18 year old Finnish kids spend in academic time? Average in America: about 24 hours per week on academic class time. Second question: college is free but 50% attend vocational schools. Are they free too? "
03/21/2012:
"love this "
02/22/2012:
"*most Finnish kids who graduate High school are about as old as college graduates in India!* So those college graduates in India are at the age of 17-18? "
11/16/2011:
"Finland is AWESOME!!!!! "
10/6/2009:
"Americans derive from other countries. Student performance generally mirrors those from their countries of origin. In other words, a Vietnamese American's academic performance is similar to that of a student in Vietnam. And a Jamaican American's performance is similar to that of a student in Jamaica. One sees this trend with most statistics ie crime, unemployment, etc. If one separated American student's performance into their respective demographics one would find that some demographics score much better than this report indicates. And some score much, much worse. Most people should be familiar with the 'achievement gap'. That's one of the reasons forced integration has such a negative impact. For several decades there has been a political movement to impose 'diversity' on the school systems under the mistaken impression that seating a student from a low-performing demographic next to a student from a high-performing demographic will improve the low-performing demographic. But the opposite is true. For one thing, a low-performing student is harmed by a class that is too difficult and too fast for his ability. Similarly, a high performing student is harmed by a class that is too easy and too slow for his ability. The solution is to disregard race and allow students to attend the schools and classes which match their abilities. Point blank - Forced segregation was bad but forced integration is worse. And the facts prove it. Other than that, I think there is a disciplinary problem that interferes with learning. www.myfoxchicago.com/dpp/news/metro/video_derrion_albert"
09/2/2009:
"I have attended top notch school in B'bay too my son goes to a private school here bcoz I am used to a stricter more controlled education ,only enforcing rules & good parental support can make the real difference ,no excuses offered ,my kid is the brightest student in class ,he is a child of an immigrant and not too rich too...but we made a choice earlier to make no excuses ,we teach him the curriculum of next grade way in advance as we feel the education is a bit lax here and he may loose his competitive edge ...he nwo enjoys learning ever hungry for more knowledge & is at ease picking up social skills in school ,insted of struggling with studies ...try being a better parent ,reduce wastage ,pick a good school & be prepared to get involved on a daily basis in ur kids education ...no point blaming or comaparing ...only u know ur chid best .."
01/9/2009:
"Has anyone ever checked into how many of these other countries test their special education population like we do. We had a foreign exchange student living with us and she said in Germany they only test their college bound students. If this is accurate information then we aren't comparing apples to apples. If we only counted our college bound we would compare much better than we do."
01/2/2009:
"Even us from Africa, though we are never compared to the US, we are worried about the education system in the US, which lacks substance. It it more local than global, very artificial and racial focused."
12/23/2008:
"I think America should have followed Finland's in the sense of hiring teachers.They must have a Master degree to ensure quality. "
10/31/2008:
"One important thing in Finland is that all the students get on free and healthy meal every day in the school. Healthy food helps the children to 'survive' the day. Brain needs good fuel."
09/17/2008:
"Although this may seem fabricated it is a harsh reality. I work closely with Public School Children in a bad neighborhood in Philadelphia whom I love and enjoy greatly but in no way at all perfrom to their grade levels. The talk that many of you had about No Child Left Behind being a joke, and there being no hope for America's schools should be ashamed of yourselves. If you are not aware there has been an enormous amount of changes and many schools through out the U.S. have improved in not only their test scores bus also the attendance and behavior of the students. Things do not happen over night it takes time for results to show. Also, many people who responded may not be aware that in most of the public schools in citys through out the United States children come from broken homes and suffer from abuse in many forms. If neither of those apply their families may not be economically stable or they simply may not feel loved or appreciated. These young people are expected to fail. Rarely do all of the adults and role models in the lives of these students expect the children to be working harder and trying to achieve better. Ofcourse it is encouraged but rarely is it expected. If we hold the children in these classrooms to higher standards they will work harder and in most cases do better. The problem is people not believing in the youth today. Sterotypes and frustrated teachers tear these poor minds apart and they grow up thinking they are going to do poorly. There are so many factors when considering why the schools in the United States are doing poorly. It starts at home and ends in the classroom. If every person in every community all over the US took head and volunteered some time to help these young people maybe we would see a big improvement. We need more service cites like City Year to give these children a chance ! WE are the change. If we are not a part of the solution then we are part of the problem."
09/2/2008:
"This is very interesting. As a 12 year veteran of HS science teaching before being fired for being 'too tough' and watching and hearing my wife talk about her school as she enters her 29th year of science teaching, I can say that no other country tries to educate every youth that is warm and breathing. We spend so much more on the lowest 20% in ability, and next to nothing for the top 20% in ability. Finland tracks kids to academic or trades, and we have to admit that not all kids go to college!"
07/10/2008:
"I would hate to say this, but as an American student, I am not surprised that our education ranks quite low. I was in a regular class last year and saw high-schoolers complain about how hard fifth-grade level work was. (I also heard about students who failed classes as simple as P.E.) I have even talked to one of my teachers about this subject, and she said that 'kids here don't try'. Being in those two very simple classes, I could see that it was true. I have also talked to a few students from foreign countries (i.e. the Netherlands, France, Vietnam, and Jordan). They have all agreed that education in this country was easier than their systems, in all classes, and level only in AP. In addition, I had a teacher who was from Germany, who said that students over there had to test into high school. As for sports and other clubs, who says that they are a bad thing? They build character and friendship, and develop excellent social skills. They also cut down on the overweight population, and keep kids in school, where they continue to have fun. (So even though we rank #6 globally in school funding, which includes budget cuts, none of it is truly going to waste.) On the bottom line? Education, for the most part, depends on the student's willingness to pursue it. Sure, there can be bad teachers involved, but what is most important is what the student sees in the mirror: him or herself. "
05/12/2008:
"I graduated High-Scool in 2000 in the Dutch Antilles, I'm now attending an American University my freshman year felt as I was just finishing High School. I have seen homework and tests my friends kids bring home from their High- School and mostly all their tests are in the form of multiple choice. Their science and math are very easy; and they barely read books. I have a two year-old son and I am very concern about the academic system here in the USA. For Americans is the best system, they should do a little research on that. Foreign Languages are not priority in school and the USA is a country of immigrants. Not all the children have to excell in science in math to be succesful in their careers, there is so many other things we can educate children; that they will enjoy, instead of getting bored in a course they do not want to take."
05/12/2008:
"I think education is what we consider it is, but it actually comes in various forms! And parallel comparisons only work for what we considered. There sure are a bunch of local elements, unseen by a global person but impact heavily on its system, leading to deceptive relative-success scores. Ultimately we should all hope that this exercise should just be construed as a platform to learn, apply and improvise our very own (add good ones and subtract bad ones- a simple math! hey don’t blame me I’m from India). I’ve been living in USA long enough to appreciate some uniquely nicest things that I could only wish for now to be there in my country and I think education system was certainly one amongst them. The system was very seasoned and proven effective for long time. This country has adopted such rich cultural diversity overtime and it will essentially payoff. Let people be more diverse but ensure they merge well into its very national fabric. So its people must not rush into con! clusions but look OUTSIDE THE BOX not blaming education. Will it loose its charm in future? My answer would be ‘NO’. But will it loose its merit relatively with other countries overtime, I must say YES. Not because you lost but due to other learned the trick too. As this article compares India challenging USA for its global competitiveness, the education system was only a part contributing to this while other demographic advantages play key role in it too. Even 40% of its high school goers, or a 5% of engineers, scientists, technocrats of more than 1 billion people (may be 3 times of USA) puts pressure on global scale. High population once a curse had turned for its good. With its economy has more scope to expand gives them more funds available for education system and eventually they turn to the same mission of making this affordable 40% to 100%. Most of them are at a phase where the growth rate would obviously seem steep but as they mature their systems would feel just li! ke USA’s. During the whole time, USA could keep its education ! standard s high (Making sure to choosing RIGHT leaders, spending where it deserves, curtailing curiosity outside nation but minding MORE of own business, right alliances with nations etc) and yet may fail to keep its relative preference by foreign students or to retain its overall global competitiveness. I see it not as a failure but global adjustment, that’s all! --I never quite understood why so many millions vote for “American Idol” to pretend to suggest that it’s really a talent show…well I have my reservations whether its Showtime or Politics--"
05/8/2008:
"Another factor to seriously consider: SIX out of the top ten countries in that list DO NOT FLUORIDATE their water supplies. In other words, their kids aren't being poisoned with a intelligence-reducing toxic substance. see: http://www.fluoridealert.org/50-reasons.htm"
05/8/2008:
"I find it interesting that although Canada apparently scored higher (and is a G8 nation), the only comment about this is that 'it is possible that the overall scores for Canada are enhanced by its East Asian minority population.' I'm not sure how this is relevant. Canada has a diverse, if much smaller, population than the U.S., but it is a federation, divided into provinces (which have jurisdiction over education). Perhaps the author would like to explore other reasons for the higher test scores in Canada. There is much more standardized testing in the US, but that apparently does not result in higher scores when compared internationally. The homework load here is also very high, particularly in middle school and high school."
05/8/2008:
"Way to go with selective quotes! Did you happen to miss this one: 'Students in Highest Achieving U.S. States Rank Significantly Below Students in Highest Achieving Countries' It's on the FIRST page of your quoted report. The same TIMSS and PISA reports clearly indicate that our BEST students do worse than the best in many countries. In TIMSS 1999, our high school seniors were almost DEAD LAST in international comparisons for advanced mathematics. Shame on you!"
05/8/2008:
"I really enjoyed reading this article on how the U.S. compared with other countries. More so, I agreed with many of the responses that were submitted. I believe the 'no child left behind' is a joke. We have more drop-outs and kids being retained because of the new curriculum in the schools. If your child doesn't pass this test or that test, he/she is 'left behind.' Whatever happened to 'let kids be kids.' In the near future, our kids possibly will be taking high blood pressure pills due to stress, not from peer pressure. If a study was conducted on, 'How many of our kids enjoy attending school', what do you believe the outcome would be? The U.S. needs to make changes to the educational system because we seem to be the only ones, 'left behind.'"
05/8/2008:
"I don't think you will ever see the U.S. ranked Number 1 in anything anymore. We have stretched our resources to the limit helping build other nations while our education,welfare, and healthcare systems here in the U.S. have faltered. We are a melting pot and must know a little about alot of things in the world. When 8% of the children in grammer school are learning english for the first time, how can you expect them to learn other subjects well when the are just getting a grasp on a very difficult language, that does not always follow the rules? The best we as parents can hope for is to help our children become productive members of society, be generous and loving, and stop putting so much pressure on being #1"
05/8/2008:
"There was a time the education in the US was considered #1. Rather than imitate Finland why don't we return to the practices that made our system enviable. Students went to school because there was at least one thing during the day that they enjoyed. I was a high achiever but math and science was not why I looked forward to school. For me it was Home Economics, Choir and Sports. For others it was art, auto mechanics, and woodshop. There were practical applications for learning the core subjects. Budget cuts, stressful tests and uninteresting classrooms have moved us to middle of th pack. I am not blaming the teachers as much as I am blaming the bureaucracy that has made teaching stressful and unenjoyable. That honored profession is not so desired any more. I know that there are good teachers, I know some of them, but they don't enjoy teaching because they have to spend so much time worrying about teaching to the standardized test and being on a certain page by a certain day ! according to someone elses unimformed scheduling. We need to train teachers to teach students how to think, not how to regurgitate what I told you without any thought to what is being said. We need to let teachers teach. We need to allow them to love the profession again. The students will respond and the scores will take care of themselves. I know because I have seen it happen. I see it every day in our afterschool program. We are a private program but we have teachers volunteering to work with the students. They are free to do what they went into teaching for. They leave a full day of teaching to volunteer to teach some of the same kids that they couldn't get through to during the day. The teachers come alive and the students respond. Why can't they do that in their classroom? Just something to think about. Patricia"
05/8/2008:
"Too many distractions in US schools! Sports, clubs, band, art...all the things the countries ahead of us educationally handle outside of school in the community. We can spend $2 million on a stadium that less than 10% of the student body will ever play in, but we drop Advanced Placement classes and put student in trailers and portables to learn. Our diversity leads to racial issues that further distract from learning. Many young people are taught at home to distrust, ignore, or even hate people who are different. Sports put an emphasis on who is stronger and weaker physically which has zero to do with learning, but is brought into the schools by the whole school sports scene. Half the daily announcements have to do with who beat who and when the practices are. Save the US schools....demand that they EDUCATE!"
05/8/2008:
"I feel that the USA being 'near the middle of the pack' is pathetic. We should be an example of how to do things correctly, not lagging behind. It sounds like many children from India don't get a chance to attend schools. The fact that many minorities & inner cities don't get good education in the US puts us in the same boat. My wife & I feel the US Government run school system is failing on the whole. We are leaning towards home-schooling our daughter (now 2yo). I have read that HS kids learn better socialization skills. My hope is that our Government's strangling grip on the Public system here will open up and work with home-schoolers and that our poor tax practices will be wiped out and allow ALL schools to be high quality, not just the rich white suburban schools (I am white BTW and pay high taxes to a school district that my child we likely not attend)."
05/8/2008:
"To the person who made uninformed comments about Norway, you need to broaded your horizon and learn about other cultures before making such short sighted statements. Norway has the highest per capital income in the world and one of the highest standards of living afforded the general population (not just to the top 2% as in the US). Free college education!!! Come on, wouldn't you love that for YOUR child. You have not heard about their international influence because, quite frankly, Norwegians are happy living in their home land. We could only wish to achieve the economic and social success of Norway. Your comment highlights the ignorance of many Americans about global issues and the acceptance of an American education system that is outdated (standards were set in the 1950's). We need to read and learn more about the global environment if we are to maintain our leadership position in the world. America- don't take this for granted. My kids are in one of the top international schools in the world; where the predominant population is Asian (over 85%). The academic standards are the highest; the graduating class places the highest number of ivy league acceptances; and the environment could not be any more competitive. The purpose of education is NOT about teaching competitiveness. These kids are stressed to the hilt. They have no life and little chance for self discovery. And the US system is NOT about teaching competitiveness. Because if it did, the standards would be universally applied to all communities, regardless of income and race. Let's do away with gifted and talented programs and provide an overall higher standard of education to all of our American kids. Let's provide indiviualized support to those who fall short, academically. And give our kids options. Not every child is cut out to be a doctor or lawyer. And our economy is not built on highly professional jobs only. What about all the blue c! ollars? We have too many unskilled kids dropping out or graduating from high school without jobs. Let's spend more time rethinking the way we teach. Get rid of these mega-high schools. If you have some free time, Bill and Melinda Gates are on to something monumental. Go to the website and see how they are changing the way our inner city kids are learning and excelling. The US may have the best universities in the world. But the facts speak clearly about how we are educating our young ones."
05/7/2008:
"I am glad that there continues to be postings about comparing US academics with the rest of the world. First of all, 'No child left behind does and never will work', second academics should be standardized throughout the country and held at a higher lever and standard. Teachers should hold a Masters degree and or at least a degree in the subject they teach including a minor in child psychology and or gifted children. People should push states to fund preschool and taxes seperate to go to just education like they do in PA and other east coast states. Minorities should be given the chance and praised more than others and be told that they can achieve not because of their race or income but because they can. Mandatory smaller class sizes (no more than 20) in grades K through 2nd and free after school care so that families whom need to work can know that the kids are in a safe environment. We complain that we pay a lot for gas and taxes....we pay the same and more than Eu! rope if we add everything up....not to mention ridiculously high college tuition. What do we get for all that we pay for.....high schoolers whom can't write or do basic math and kids entering college wasting parents hard earned money on remedial classes ."
05/7/2008:
"And I'm yet to run into a Business, Scientific, Political or Religious leader of International significance from FInland! :-). Same applies to most of the other countries listed (Estonia?! Is that a county in Wisconsin? :-)) What’s the point of this article? Based on what’s described, Finland produces school graduates who are laid-back (start school at age 7, no homework), probably are not very competitive (no grading until high school), can get a job with reasonable pay after high school (50% go into vocational training, probably based on diagnostic testing). Not sure if 7 is the age to start Kindergarten. If it is, most Finnish kids who graduate High school are about as old as college graduates in India! About time they start working, and most probably do. We all seem to be unnecessarily worried about education in the US. We have one of the best education systems in the world. There are several gaps as should be expected of a system that is so large and heterogeneous. Given the low taxes we pay (relative to Finland) it is up to the Parents to assess their child and either fill the gaps or enhance their strengths as necessary. At the end of the day what matters is a system that teaches competitiveness and inculcates a drive to succeed rather than just educate someone with tools of the trade. "
05/7/2008:
"Very thought provoking article! I went top-notch schools both in India and the U.S. Accessibility to schools is really great in the U.S. So is the emphasis on creativity and problem solving. However, I am very worried about my children's competitiveness compared to their cousins going to schools in India. Both of my children are attending public schools (3rd and 11th grades) in Oregon. The curriculum (math, science, language arts, social sciences) is very weak through middle school. Grades are a joke! High schools offer A.P (or IB) classes for those who seek stronger curriculum. But, a foundation needs to be laid right from elementary school. So, we use supplemental educational programs to help with their learning. "
05/7/2008:
"I think the idea of having brighter, more educated teachers is the key that the Finnish system has going for it. I cannot see how demolishing gifted education will help our country's scores and I'm afraid now that administrators will look at this and do precisely that! I went to school overseas and here at home. One of the schools I attended was an american-style school overseas and another was an international school for gifted children. Personally, I did much better at the international school as it was challenging and exciting and the teachers were intelligent and well-educated. My daughter has experienced gifted education here in our public schools with teachers who couldn't even spell! I hear that starting academics around the age of 7 works well, not only in Finland, but also in the Waldorf system of education. Maybe we should study Waldorf education here at home? Also, I agree with the lighter homework load system. My junior high age daughter is burned out o! n school because homework keeps her up so late, so often, that she rarely gets enough sleep! I also feel that if we could start school a little later in the day for our secondary students (we have to get up at six a.m.) they might have a chance of sleeping the optimum 9-10 hours a night."
05/7/2008:
"Excellent article! I''m saving this 'issue' of Great Schools. I wish though that more emphasis were made on the core difference between the USA, China and India. Our student's scores are often compared to those of students in India and China. A major factor that often gets left out of the 'equation' is that not only do less than 50% of their children even attend high school, but that there is a very large population of children who do not attend school AT ALL or at most have only a few years of schooling. Our tradition in the United States is that we whole heartedly have made a commitment to educate ALL CHILDREN."
05/7/2008:
"This article was awesome! As a parent I want to make sure that my children schools are on target, in giving my children the necessary fundamentals that they need to be successful in school. I read an article a week ago that stated Finland was number in the world for academics. What really surprised me was their average annual household income there is $26,000 and in the United States it is $46,000. That being said we have the resources in our country to ensure that each child, regardless of the family’s economic stance could be well educated. "
05/7/2008:
"This is a great article. Thanks for branching out a bit. I would love to see something about the lottery system vs. neighborhood schools. Living in SF has really opened our eyes to a system that isn't working for our family but I'd be curious to see if it used in other areas and if so, is it successful or not. Another topic might be homeschooling trends and how it could fit in to the regular public school system. "
05/7/2008:
"We live in The Netherlands. My 2 kids go to International/American School. Myself I graduated from High School in American the year 1976. What I can say, there is so much homework today for our kids. Also in the Dutch School, children have so much homework also. Sometime, I feel little to much. When we go on Holiday for 2 weeks for Spring brake in Italy, my kids have to bring their backpack full of homeworks and books. "
05/7/2008:
"We are from Brazil, and we can see that math and science are better in our country than here in middle and high school. The performance of our daughter (7th) and son (11th) in comparision of students from here in these class is very very high. We are really worry about this in their education and future."
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