Americans were stunned when fifteen-year-olds from Shanghai, China, led the world while U.S. students lagged far behind in the results of a respected international exam released in December. How did American students do? They trailed Poland in math and science.
It was the first time mainland Chinese students had taken the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), and their commanding lead among sixty-five countries and school systems underscored the urgency of the Hewlett Foundation’s updated Education Program strategy focused on “deeper learning.” Here was impressive new proof that the nation’s schools must make drastic changes in what and how they teach if the United States is to keep pace with the most powerful international players in the digital age.
“We can quibble, or we can face the brutal truth that we’re being out-educated,” Secretary of Education Arne Duncan told the New York Times when the 2009 PISA scores in reading, math, and science were released. He noted that U.S. students ranked “23rd or 24th in most subjects.”