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Global comparisons needed to improve education, report urges

December 19, 2008 - A group of leading education experts issued a report today urging states to begin benchmarking their K-12 education systems against those of top-performing nations as a critical step to ensure America's competitiveness.

The report, "Benchmarking for Success: Ensuring U.S. Students Receive a World-class Education,"was issued by a panel assembled by three of the nation's leading education policy organizations -- the National Governor's Association, the Council of Chief State School Officers and Achieve, Inc. The report provides a framework for states to use in keying their educational standards to those of nations where achievement is especially strong.

Such "benchmarking" is aimed at helping state policymakers to identify the qualities and characteristics of other systems that best prepare students to succeed in the global economy.

The International Benchmarking Advisory Group cited five key changes needed in American education to better prepare students to compete more effectively in the global economy:

  • Upgrade state standards to a common core of internationally benchmarked standards in math and language arts from kindergarten through high school;
  • Collectively, states should ensure that educational materials from textbooks and digital media to curriculum and assessments are internationally benchmarked and draw from best practices of high-performing nations;
  • Revise state policies for recruiting, preparing, developing and supporting teachers and school leaders to reflect the "human capital" practices of high performing nations;
  • Hold schools and systems accountable through monitoring, interventions and support to ensure high performance, again drawing on best practices around the world;
  • Measure state-level performance globally by examining student achievement through international comparisons.

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