What America Can Learn About Smart Schools in Other Countries

The United States had not raised its average scores, but on measures of equity, it had improved. One in every three disadvantaged American teenagers beat the odds in science, achieving results in the top quarter of students from similar backgrounds worldwide.

This is a major accomplishment, despite America’s lackluster performance over all. In 2006, socioeconomic status had explained 17 percent of the variance in Americans’ science scores; in 2015, it explained only 11 percent, which is slightly better than average for the developed world. No other country showed as much progress on this metric.

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Generally speaking, the smartest countries tend to be those that have acted to make teaching more prestigious and selective; directed more resources to their neediest children; enrolled most children in high-quality preschools; helped schools establish cultures of constant improvement; and applied rigorous, consistent standards across all classrooms.

Of all those lessons learned, the United States has employed only one at scale: A majority of states recently adopted more consistent and challenging learning goals, known as the Common Core State Standards, for reading and math.

Some of the other reforms Americans have attempted nationwide in past years, including smaller class sizes and an upgrade of classroom technology, do not appear on the list of things that work. In fact, there is some evidence that both policies can have a negative impact on learning.

It’s never a priority to have a good educational outcome. We do not aim for a better overall outcome. Our focus has been on reducing achievement gap. As long as the gap is small, we are happy.

American educational underachiement is a political failure. Too much emphasis on low performing students and too much penalty on high performing students.

We have more diversity than most countries. To cope with the diversity and to reduce the racial gap, schools are not allowed to have different classes for students with different achievement. We make the smart ones bored, make the poorly prepared ones feel frustrated. Our goal is make everyone equally ready for Havard and UC, even when some of the students have zero interest in college.


No, I don’t think so. Raising the bar across the board and reducing achievement gap are both worthy goals. They don’t contradict each other.

Again, look at Singapore. It’s racially diverse just like the US. They just go about it in an evidence-based manner, and they are eager to push the boundary. We lack both. Smaller classroom and more technology have been treated as God-given gospel in the US but in fact they are expensive and not that effective.

Singapore is not a comparison at all. Singapore is full of Asians, it’s a single race but from different ethnicity background. The difference between Chinese, Indians and Malays are small. There was no inner city crimes in Singapore. Also no illegal immigration in Singapore. If Singapore has the same issues, it could be similar.

Singapore is pretty much merit based and equal competition.

Each country is different. US is very unique with a unique history, it’s not fair to compare against other countries with different history.


It used to be the smartest women became teachers. Now they become engineers, lawyers, and doctors which pay more. It’s one of the unintended consequences of striving for women’s equality in the work force.

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The socioeconomic difference between Chinese, Indians and Malays In Singapore is small. The socioeconomic differences between American white/black/Latino/Asian is bigger than Singapore.

Education is important, but not the most important. Basic human needs are more important. Some people do not care about their children’s education, they just want them to be safe and happy.

I’m wondering why Obama/Trump/Clinton send their kids to private school. They should enroll their kids in an disadvantaged neighborhood and mix their kids with kids from highs crime neighborhoods.

Also why do parents move to better school district? Most parents in BA are liberals, why do they move to better schools and better neighborhood? It would be better if the rich liberal parents move to high crime neighborhood and help to reduce gap.

So everyone wants to mix other people’s kids with high crime and high violence, but not their own?

I am all for equality in work place. We just need to pay teachers better. By better I mean 2x or more better.

I don’t know enough about SG to say for sure the socioeconomic difference between different races is small. Let’s say it is. Wouldn’t you say it’s because of the SG’s policies that make the difference small? Look across the border at Malaysia. There the difference is indeed huge. Different policies different outcomes.

Why not reduce the gap between smartest women’s and women teachers? If the women teacher have no achievement gap with the smartest women doctors, lawyers and engineers, would we all reach Alice’s wonderland?

Reducing educational gap should be to advance the bottom, not push down the top. If we close all schools and forbid home schooling, educational gap will disappear. Not sure if we want that.

Germany simply sepatate students to different programs and make the educational gap much bigger. It’s still doing fine.

Difference will always be there. Singapore force people to buy houses, that might be the policy that makes difference. I am not aware that Singapore is forcing teachers to ignore the good students and only teach the bottom students.

I am not aware US is doing that either.

When I was a kid, Singapore has high crime rates (walking my way home from school, sometimes I see broken bottles fighting/ knifing, racial fighting (hundreds are killed a few streets from my home) and many suicides (eye witness a couple). Then Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew, resolved all that through tough policies.

Many Singaporeans are very poor then, me eat Chicken perhaps once a year, occasionally, only rice plus soya sauce/ salted fish. 7 persons to a small HDB of size 600 sqft.

Many beggars. Many thieves. Many day-light robbers. Many homeless. Many jobless.

What you see now is completely different. Singapore policies is “level up”. All move up together.


“Tough on crime” is against the liberal values. Won’t happen here.

Last I checked, most of the mathematicians refused to sign off on the Common Core standards for math because they didn’t cover enough material.

Also, I’ll be clear–common core throws a wrench into accelerating kids because the teachers “can’t grade 7th grade math on 6th grade standards.” It’s given the school an additional excuse not to accelerate. That’s why we moved to a school without common core.

That said, I think having the same curriculum across the US is a good thing overall in case you move.

I think the biggest difference is that we are “no child left behind” while other countries are “smart kids rewarded with better resources.”

Difference is huge. Korea has demonstrations with millions of people, peaceful and no crime. USA has some protests with only a few hundred people, but violence, break-in, looting are often expected.

Our demographics is really different from Korea, Singapore.

Crime is a more important target the education. First, narrow the crime gap, narrow the violence gap, narrow the school dropout gap. Without narrowing the crime gap, it would be ridiculous to force a narrowing of college education gap.

Clinton signed tougher sentencing requirements. I always marvel at perception vs reality. Trump says he wants to deport illegals and he’s racist. Obama deports more illegals than any president in history, and he’s a champion of people’s rights.

I think most young people don’t realize the value of teacher pensions. 30 years and they get full pension. There are teachers that’ll draw full pension for as many years as they taught. I think it’d make sense to reduce/eliminate the pension and pay them more while working. A higher starting salary would make it more appealing.

That sex predator 32 year old SJ teacher earns 92k per year including benefit. That’s a decent income. Add pension, it’s a good income.

Most of the college graduates are not able to pass teachers exam. Our college education wastes a huge amount of money to let people to party, using educational loan to help young people to get money easily for party and drug. We should reduce the size of colleges and let half of the students never go to college. Party and drug is not a worthwhile education. It’s useless and it’s harmful.

Send them to real life. Real life is a much better education.