Surpassing Shanghai: Part II

Yesterday’s blog on Marc Tucker’s book Surpassing Shanghai: An Agenda for American Education Built on the World’s Leading Systems looked at five myths of the American education system pointed out by Washington Post columnist Jay Matthews. Matthews followed up his first article with one that focused on possible solutions to making American education more effective, He also noted that many of Tucker’s proposals are “heavily influenced by what is working overseas, particularly in Japan, Korea, Finland, Shanghai, Singapore and Canada.”­

First is to make admissions to teacher training more competitive by holding applicants to international standards. However, Matthews is skeptical on the feasibility of such a proposal because most schools in the U.S. cannot “survive financially without enrolling many average or below-average students.”

Second is to raise teachers’ salaries in order increase teacher retention rates, and thus reducing the costs of training new teachers. Third is to allow larger class sizes. Although putting more students in a classroom won’t directly boost performance, this allows schools to pay teachers more, which furthers the second goal. Additionally, PISA data has shown that large class sizes is not a good indicator of lower academic performance.

Fourth is to “end annual standardized testing.” Instead, Tucker suggests implementing three “federally required tests” throughout the K-12 education system. Not only will this save money and gain the support of teachers, but it should also allow these tests to be of much higher quality compared to the traditional multiple choice tests nowadays.

Fifth is devoting more resources to the students that need it. In Tucker’s ideal system, funding will be allocated based on both the number of students and the degree to which certain students need more help in order to reach educational standards.

Posted by: Pokyee Yu

Sources: Surpassing Shanghai: An Agenda for American Education Built on the World’s Leading Systems, The Washington Post

Photo Credit: Surpassing Shanghai: An Agenda for American Education Built on the World’s Leading Systems By Marc S. Tucker. 288 Pages. Harvard Education Press. $29.95.

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