Q&A about education in other countries

Oct 19, 2017 by

Detroit News: In your book “The Smartest Kids in the World” why did you focus on schools in Finland, Poland and South Korea?

Amanda Ripley: I wanted to look at countries that outperformed the U.S. on more than one subject, so I looked at student performance data on the international PISA assessment, but particularly math PISA data, because math is our Achilles heel as a country. I also wanted to look at high school graduation rates as well as issues of equity. That’s how I ended up with Finland and South Korea, which have been consistently top tier performers. I selected Poland because it also is a top performer but only recently became one.

News: Some have argued that our education problems are the result of the struggles of our low-income kids, and that our middle class and wealthy children are competitive with the best in the world. What did you find?

Ripley: Poverty is definitely part of our problem, but it’s not the case that our more affluent students are doing as well or better than their income peers in other countries. In math, for example, even the richest 25 percent of American kids perform below a couple of dozen other countries when you compare them to well-off kids in those places. We do better in reading

News: What did you conclude were the key factors that enabled those three countries to outperform the U.S.?

continue: Opinion: Q&A about education in other countries

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