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Lessons from PISA for the United States

image of Lessons from PISA for the United States

US President Obama has launched one of the world’s most ambitious education reform agendas. Under the heading “Race to the Top”, this agenda encourages US states to adopt internationally benchmarked standards and assessments that prepare students for success in college and the workplace: recruit, develop, reward, and retain effective teachers and principals; build data systems that measure student success; and inform teachers and principals how they can improve their practices and turn around their lowest-performing schools.

But what does the “top” look like internationally? How have the countries at the top managed to achieve sustained high performance or to significantly improve their performance? The OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) provides the world’s most extensive and rigorous set of international surveys assessing the knowledge and skills of secondary school students. This volume combines an analysis of PISA with a description of the policies and practices of those education systems that are close to the top or advancing rapidly, in order to offer insights for policy from their reform trajectories.

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Singapore: Rapid Improvement Followed by Strong Performance

Singapore is one of Asia’s great success stories, transforming itself from a developing country to a modern industrial economy in one generation. During the last decade, Singapore’s education system has remained consistently at or near the top of most major world education ranking systems. This chapter examines how this “tiny red dot” on the map has achieved and sustained so much, so quickly. From Singapore’s beginning, education has been seen as central to building both the economy and the nation. The objective was to serve as the engine of human capital to drive economic growth. The ability of the government to successfully match supply with demand of education and skills is a major source of Singapore’s competitive advantage. Other elements in its success include a clear vision and belief in the centrality of education for students and the nation; persistent political leadership and alignment between policy and practice; a focus on building teacher and leadership capacity to deliver reforms at the school level; ambitious standards and assessments; and a culture of continuous improvement and future orientation that benchmarks educational practices against the best in the world.

English

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