Thursday, June 25, 2009

International Benchmarking

Gary Philips, an education specialist at the American Institutes for Research (AIR), has been to the Department of Education and on Capitol Hill briefing committee staff about a new international grading index that measures local performance against the world. His briefing is based on a new research paper (pdf).

From last week's press release:
This new approach to benchmarking simplifies international comparisons by grading the countries, states and school districts with a comparable system that is more familiar to policymakers – grades of A, B, C, D, or BD (below a D). The study assumes that the international benchmark, against which we should calibrate our expectations and monitor our success, is a grade of B.

The report, issued today by the American Institutes for Research (AIR), based on international performance benchmarks in math for 4th and 8th grade students concluded that only 4th graders in a handful of states – among them Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Kansas and Vermont – are learning at B or B- levels when compared with students internationally.

At Grade 8, only Massachusetts achieves a grade of B.
There is little support for any such benchmarking at the school district level, since administators don't want to admit how their schools are actually faring, nor do they wish to "bow to indernational standards." That doesn't mean it's a bad idea.

You can compare how your state does here.

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