National Standards? Too Provincial.

Forget national standards. A growing chorus of educators are looking beyond US borders and pushing for international benchmarks of what and how children should be taught to be successful in a borderless economy.

"No longer do we compare Iowa against Mississippi. It really doesn't matter very much anymore. We've really got to compare US students to those in Denmark and Singapore and other places," said Raymond Scheppach, executive director of the National Governor's Association at a press conference in late December to release a new report that suggests states should look internationally for success stories when strengthening their own standards.

It's well known that US students rank far from the top on international tests in math and science. Despite this, some experts say US educators don't look outside very often for cues on what we could be doing better.

"Americans typically look internally, while, increasingly, leaders in other countries are looking at each other and particularly at high performers...for the best ideas," said Craig Jerald, an education consultant who authored the report.

Achieve, Inc., a co-sponsor of the report, which publishes annual reports comparing academic standards and graduation requirements in every state, is busy compiling country-by-country comparisons of what students are expected to be taught. And other agencies are looking abroad for more promising ways to recruit new teachers or simplify overly busy textbooks.

School superintendents are also getting in on the next frontier of the standards movement. School officials love to proclaim they run world-class institutions. But, they acknowledge, it might take some actual looking around the world to prove it.

By Michael Alison Chandler  |  January 29, 2009; 12:27 PM ET  | Category:  Math Around the World , Math Education Reform
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