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NEPC Review: Education Olympics 2008: The Games in Review (Thomas B. Fordham Institute, August 2008)

This review examines the recently released Thomas P. Fordham Institute report, Education Olympics: The Games in Review. Published just after the completion of the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, Education Olympics strategically parallels the international competition by awarding gold, silver and bronze medals to top performing countries based on indicators including scores from international assessments in reading, mathematics, and science. The report contrasts American students’ unimpressive performance on international assessments with the United States’ success in the Olympics. However, the report fails to substantiate its primary claim: that American students’ relatively low rankings on these tests will weaken the U.S. economy and jeopardize its future global standing. It also fails to substantiate secondary claims, set forth throughout in various sidebars. The report recognizes its numerous methodological weaknesses, but it nonetheless bases its conclusions primarily on findings produced by this flawed process. In addition, the research meant to bolster the report’s position is very limited. Ultimately, its conclusions lack a basis of argument or evidence, and its attempt to link test scores to the nation’s economic standing fails.

Suggested Citation: Fierros, E.G. & Kornhaber, M.L. (2008). Review of “Education Olympics 2008: The Games in Review.” Boulder and Tempe: Education and the Public Interest Center & Education Policy Research Unit. Retrieved [date] from

Document Reviewed:

Education Olympics 2008: The Games in Review

Amber Winkler, Amy Ballard, and Stafford Palmieri
Thomas B. Fordham Institute