I have a column in USA Today this morning called "The Permanent Recession." It touches on some topics we discussed here in recent weeks -- namely, that mediocre schools have an economic cost, and that underachievement is not just a problem confined to poor students in poor districts. It affects most students at most schools. Scores for the top 10% of US 15-year-olds on international tests are way below the top 10% in countries such as Finland and South Korea. That means that students who might qualify for some of the broadest defined gifted programs here in the US would be considered, at best, B-team material in some other rich countries.
I call for judging schools and states against international standards, and making those very public. I also got to quote Kyle Hutzler, a 2008 Davidson Fellow, who referred to NCLB as the educational equivalent of the Articles of Confederation. I think that's a very apt description. For all the problems of testing, we know that accountability is important, and NCLB was a feint in that direction. The issue now is making something that actually works.