The actual U.S. place in the international ranking of all OECD countries from the International PISA test was 6th in reading and 13th in math—not 14th in reading and 25th in math as reported. The 2012, PISA tested about 85,000 students in 44 countries placing the U.S. in the top 13.6% for reading and 29% for math. Thirty-eight countries ranked lower in reading and 31 in math.
This post is about the two scams that have led to the era of corporate supported, public education reform in the United States. The first scam was a report called “A Nation at Risk” in 1983, during the Reagan era. Because of this report, teachers, teachers’ unions and the democratic public schools have been painted as failures, and the corporate owned media turned “A Nation at Risk” into front page news with endless, never-ending chatter that focuses on the so-called failing public schools and lazy, incompetent teachers. This has gone on for more than thirty years.
The truth first appeared in 1990, when the Scandia Report was released revealing that “A Nation at Risk” was a misleading fraud. The corporate owned media ignored the results of the Scandia Report, and continued to attack public school teachers and teachers’ unions.
Eric.ed.gov offers its Straight Talk about America’s Public Schools: Dispelling the Myths. Hot Topics Series. Chapter 1 contains the entire text of the 1983 report, “A Nation at Risk”; a summary of the results of the 1990 “Scandia Report”, which contradicted many of the previous report’s allegations; and an article by Daniel Tanner, which describes how the Scandia Report was commissioned and why it was later suppressed by the federal government.
The second scam has to do with the OECD’s international PISA tests. The corporate owned media, using only the overall average comparisons of countries, has reported repeatedly and widely how poorly the U.S. public schools compare to the other OECD countries, but the average ranking used to condemn America’s public education system, teachers and teachers’ unions is criminally misleading.
The Economic Policy Institute, similar to the Scandia Report, studied the PISA scores and published an in-depth revealing report. What follows the video are a few key points from The EPI.org report that reveals that the PISA results have been manipulated by the corporate-owned media misleading many Americans to think that the democratic public schools in the United States are failing and must be reformed and turned over to corporations to teach our children, that will, of course, eventually profit off the almost annual $1 trillion in taxes that supports the public schools.
This video is filled with false claims and lies but also the truth. I suggest that you read the rest of this post carefully before watching the video.
- Because in every country, students at the bottom of the social class distribution perform worse than students higher in that distribution, U.S. average performance appears to be relatively low partly because we have so many more test takers from the bottom of the social class distribution.
- A sampling error in the U.S. administration of the most recent international (PISA) test resulted in students from the most disadvantaged schools being over-represented in the overall U.S. test-taker sample. This error further depressed the reported average U.S. test score.
- If U.S. adolescents had a social class distribution that was similar to the distribution in countries to which the United States is frequently compared, average reading scores in the United States would be higher than average reading scores in the similar post-industrial countries we examined (France, Germany, and the United Kingdom), and average math scores in the United States would be about the same as average math scores in similar post-industrial countries.
- A re-estimated U.S. average PISA score that adjusted for a student population in the United States that is more disadvantaged than populations in otherwise similar post-industrial countries, and for the over-sampling of students from the most-disadvantaged schools in a recent U.S. international assessment sample, finds that the U.S. average score in both reading and mathematics would be higher than official reports indicate (in the case of mathematics, substantially higher).
- This re-estimate would also improve the U.S. place in the international ranking of all OECD countries, bringing the U.S. average score to sixth in reading and 13th in math. Conventional ranking reports based on PISA, which make no adjustments for social class composition or for sampling errors, and which rank countries irrespective of whether score differences are large enough to be meaningful, report that the U.S. average score is 14th in reading and 25th in math.
- Disadvantaged and lower-middle-class U.S. students perform better (and in most cases, substantially better) than comparable students in similar post-industrial countries in reading. In math, disadvantaged and lower-middle-class U.S. students perform about the same as comparable students in similar post-industrial countries.
- U.S. students from disadvantaged social class backgrounds perform better relative to their social class peers in the three similar post-industrial countries than advantaged U.S. students perform relative to their social class peers. But U.S. students from advantaged social class backgrounds perform better relative to their social class peers in the top-scoring countries of Finland and Canada than disadvantaged U.S. students perform relative to their social class peers.
- On average, and for almost every social class group, U.S. students do relatively better in reading than in math, compared to students in both the top-scoring and the similar post-industrial countries.
In conclusion, what these two scams tell me is that everything that came after “A Nation at Risk” is based on misinformation at best and possibly fraud, meaning that No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top and the Common Core States Standards with Bill Gates rank and yank agenda to fire teachers and close public schools is all based on lies and misinformation.
The only risk that the United States faces today is from the corporate owned media and the corporate funded fake education reform movement. Yes, we can improve our public schools, but we don’t need to reform and destroy them to achieve that.
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Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).
His third book is Crazy is Normal, a classroom exposé, a memoir. “Lofthouse presents us with grungy classrooms, kids who don’t want to be in school, and the consequences of growing up in a hardscrabble world. While some parents support his efforts, many sabotage them—and isolated administrators make the work of Lofthouse and his peers even more difficult.” – Bruce Reeves
Lofthouse’s first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy. His short story A Night at the “Well of Purity” was named a finalist of the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards. His wife is Anchee Min, the international, best-selling, award winning author of Red Azalea, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year (1992).
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