- A new report by the National Superintendents Roundtable and the Horace Mann League, a public education advocacy group, argues that international comparisons of school systems should take more into account than just test scores.
- The report looks at 24 indicators in six categories (student outcomes, school system outcomes, social stress, support for families, support for schools, and economic inequity) to assess the educational opportunities of nine countries.
- The study ultimately found that while America has a well-educated adult population and decent test scores, it also has high levels of social stress, poverty, and inequality — metrics that are often missing from international comparison studies like the popular PISA exam.
"The goal was to look at the whole iceberg, not just the tip — and provide a clearer snapshot of each country’s performance, including its wealth, diversity, community safety, and support for families and schools," Gary Marx, president of The Horace Mann League, said in a press release.
The United States had higher levels of social stress than any other country studied. To find this figure, the study looked at rates of violent deaths, drug overdoses, and teen pregnancy.
"With respect to social stress, the indicators suggest the U.S. has the highest rates of deaths from violence and substance abuse, and that American society is 13 to 16 times more violence-prone than other nations in this study," wrote the report's authors.
Most interestingly, the study noted that while there is always room for improvement, American students performed well overall academically. Could this be a sign that instead of narrowly focusing on academics and standardized tests to fix all of our ills, we should look at other bigger (and perhaps harder to pinpoint and fix) issues like poverty and inequality?