Center for American Progress

RELEASE: New Reports Outline Lessons for U.S. Schools from Other Countries
Press Release

RELEASE: New Reports Outline Lessons for U.S. Schools from Other Countries

Washington, D.C. — Today the Center for American Progress released a series of reports exploring how high-performing nations organize, manage, and fund their schools and identifying what lessons the United States can learn from around the world about how to better govern and improve our schools. Key findings from the reports were presented and discussed today at a CAP event in Washington, D.C., featuring a panel of distinguished experts in the field of education.

“On virtually every important measure, student performance in the United States lags behind many other nations,” said Cynthia G. Brown, Vice President for Education Policy at the Center for American Progress. “In order to prepare our students to be successful in the global economy, America’s education system needs to be running as efficiently and effectively as the education systems of other high-performing nations. The reports released today provide key insights into what the United States could do to improve its schools through smart interventions and better funding approaches.”

The first report, entitled “School Turnaround in Shanghai,” authored by Ben Jensen and Joanna Farmer of the Grattan Institute in Australia, explores an innovative education initiative in Shanghai that has improved low-performing schools. The empowered-management program contracts high-performing schools to work with low-performing schools—usually for a two-year period—in order to turn around their performance. Teachers and school leaders from both schools move between the two schools building capacity and developing effective practices to turn around the low-performing school. In the report, Jensen and Farmer closely examine the empowered-management program to determine which aspects would best suit school systems in the United States. The report argues that cultural differences would not prevent the bulk of this program from being successfully reproduced in the United States, although it is acknowledged that the program cannot be replicated without some attention to differences across systems.

A second report, authored by CAP Education Policy Analyst Juliana Herman, takes a close look at how three Canadian provinces have implemented provincial control of their education funding in order to try and attain greater equity in their systems of school finance. The report, entitled “Canada’s Approach to School Funding,” explores the design of these provinces’ different school-funding systems. For each province, the report documents where education dollars come from, who has the taxing authority, how school resources are allocated, and what other education money is raised and how that might impact the broader goal of equality and equity of school resources. The report suggests lessons the United States could take away and implement here at home to make sure school districts are getting the resources they need to successfully educate all students.

The third report released today, “Governing American Education,” explains how education systems in high-performing nations are governed and recommends an expanded role for state education agencies in the United States. Authored by Marc Tucker, president of the National Center on Education and the Economy, the paper highlights how the U.S. system of governance is an international outlier, and proposes a major redesign of our education governance system. Tucker calls for strengthening the role of state education agencies in education governance, at the expense of local control and of the federal government. In this plan, school funding would be the responsibility of the state, not the locality, and the distribution of state funds for schools would have nothing to do with the distribution of local property wealth.

Read the reports:

To speak with an expert on this topic, contact Katie Peters at [email protected] or 202.741.6285.