Review of Middle Class or Middle of the Pack

June 4, 2013

In Middle Class or Middle of the Pack: What can we learn when benchmarking U.S. schools against the world’s best?, America Achieves draws attention to what the group describes as the relatively low achievement of U.S. middle class students on the mathematics and science portions of the 2009 Program of International Student Assessment (PISA) test and, based on this “wake up call to America’s middle class,” urges U.S. high schools to participate in a new OECD test so schools can compare their 15 year-old students’ performance with the average performance of 15 year-old students in other countries. The message American Achieves promotes is that such comparisons are valid and can help improve high school performance. The report does not provide evidence supporting this message; nor do PISA reports nor the broader literature on school reform. Overall, the report is not grounded in research but rather is an assertion that measurement, by itself, is an effective reform tool. The report makes no attempt to reveal how this particular test would be connected to specific curricula, strategies for teaching mathematics and science, or teacher professional development strategies. Thus, the report is of no utility to policymakers. 

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