Modern educational "reformers" such as Arne Duncan, Michelle Rhee, David Guggenheim, Bill Gates, and Barack Obama tend to place great importance and blame teachers for poor test scores. A new PISA report shows that the US has stagnated when compared to the rest of the developed world, ranking below countries such as Poland, Portugal, and the Czech Republic. Most of the "reformers" believe the solution would involve firing those 'bad' teachers and principals. That is moronic. People who know about education, who have been teachers and not just read about it, examined the data and found interesting correlations educators have known all along.
The NEA (yeah, the union) broke down the numbers based on poverty. What the NEA found was striking. When you separate American schools based on poverty rates and compare them to other countries of a similar poverty rate, American students outperform everybody. Countries with a 10% poverty rate scored lower than American students in schools with a 10% poverty rate. The US was #1. Countries with a 20% poverty rate score lower than American schools with a 20% poverty rate. It is only when you get into high poverty schools that American students begin to underperform other countries. Our system takes a huge variety of of students and performs amazingly well. More tests, so called accountability, and firing bad teachers will not solve anything. Lets look at home grown successes, not racially homogeneous unimpoverished countries such as Finland or Japan. In addition, be mindful of numbers. Only 35% of students in Shanghai are allowed to go to school. We have to take everybody, and we still kick their ass. Take that China.
See the articles for yourself.
High Test Scores, Low Ability