WASHINGTON, D.C. – The results of international achievement tests conducted last year show U.S. students continue to fall further behind their peers in other developed countries.
The 2012 Program for International Student Assessment results released yesterday show 15-year-olds in U.S. schools have fallen further behind in several subjects since 2009, according to analysis by the National Center for Education Statistics.
Dow Jones Newswires reports U.S. teenagers “slipped from 25th to 31st in math since 2009; from 20th to 24th in science; and from 11th to 21st in reading.”
“U.S. scores have been basically flat since the exams were first given in the early 2000s,” according to the news report. “They hover at the average for countries in the (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) except in math, where American students are behind the curve. Meanwhile, some areas – Poland and Ireland, for example – improved and moved ahead of the U.S.”
National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel used the news as an opportunity to trash-talk education reforms implemented in recent years, such as using student performance as one of multiple measures teacher effectiveness.
“There is a road map out there,” Van Roekel said, according to the news wire. “But we are not following it.”
Van Roekel wants the public to believe there’s a magic formula to fix the problems in public education, and that U.S. education reform advocates simply have it all wrong. He wants the public to follow the union’s lead.
The problem is teachers unions have controlled the American public education system for decades and that leadership has led the U.S. to its current state. For years, teachers unions successfully resisted all types of logical reforms that held great potential for helping students succeed, from blocking nongovernment school choice options for families to opposing changes that would protect students from pedophile teachers.
Beyond the policy problems, teachers unions also demand very expensive provisions in teachers’ contracts that funnel resources away from the classroom and to their members. Teachers in the Buffalo, N.Y. public schools, for example, get free plastic surgery as part of their health insurance plan, which costs the district millions each year. In Philadelphia, teachers have for years received free personal legal services, courtesy of taxpayers.
It all adds up to a public education system that’s focused more on the perks and privileges of employment for adults than on the quality of education provided to students. It’s as simple as that.
Until Americans fully recognize that reality, and work to curb the union’s noxious influence in public education, it’s likely the next round of PISA test results will be a similar story to 2012.