All that money does not appear to be translating into better results for US students. According to the Washington thinktank the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE), the average student in Singapore is 3.5 years ahead of her US counterpart in maths, 1.5 years ahead in reading and 2.5 in science. Children in countries as diverse as Canada, China, Estonia, Germany, Finland, Netherland, New Zealand and Singapore consistently outrank their US counterparts on the basics of education.
The average US student is almost a year behind the average OECD student in maths education; the average student in Singapore is 3.5 years ahead of her US counterpart
The issues are systemic, says Marc Tucker, the NCEE president, and getting worse. The problem, Tucker says, is that US schools were developed on a “factory model” – originally teachers were mainly female graduates with few other options in the workplace. The US still treats its teachers as if that were the case while the world’s most successful school systems have become “professional” and treat the recruitment and development of highly qualified teachers as integral to their education system. “In the US what they did in 1910 made a lot of sense. They created a huge pool to teach who did not know a lot and wouldn’t be around for long,” said Tucker. The US “got lucky” in a world where college-educated women had few other options. Now those options are opening up and people who could have made great teachers are choosing other options.