Report Compares US School Districts with High-Achieving Countries

When we talk about improving student achievement in America, the conversation is usually about improving learning conditions for low-income students. While it’s valid that many low-income students do not receive the same education opportunities as their affluent peers, a new report by the Bush Institute finds that all American students are at risk when weighed against other developed countries.

The Bush Institute’s interactive map allows you to drill down to your state, county, and district to see your district’s scores and compare them to high-achieving countries. What’s unique about this interactive map is that it doesn’t just show that other countries have higher achievement rates, it adjusts your district’s reading and math score as if your district was “dropped into” one of the high achieving countries. For example, students in Denver Public Schools are in the 46th percentile in math and the 74th percentile in reading. However, if these students were dropped into Finland, they would be in the 32nd percentile in math and the 63rd percentile in reading.

What conclusions can be drawn from the reports findings?

Even though students in affluent school districts had higher achievement rates than low-income students in the U.S., they still don’t stand up to students in other developed countries. American students — all American students — must receive a better education to be competitive in the global workforce. The demand for employees in the U.S. with high-level skills is quickly growing, and if we aren’t preparing students with the education and skills to fill these jobs, someone else will fill them. In fact, today 70 percent of the engineers who graduate from U.S. universities are foreign-born, according to the article “How Does Your Child’s School Rank Against the Rest of the World?”

The demands of American students and professionals are changing. We must look to the rest of the world and ask ourselves if we can afford not to update our archaic K12 school system, get more students in higher education, and prepare our graduates with skills that will land them a job.

Use the interactive map at the Atlantic to see how your district stacks up to the rest of the world, by clicking on the image below.


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