When, exactly, did public education become a blood sport? Granted, there were vicious battles over busing in the 1970s. But now the whole American system of public education, which once made us so proud, seems to have become suspect. Perhaps it’s all those reports that show how far our students now lag behind their peers in places like Finland and Singapore — though Kim points out that once you adjust for poverty, we are still doing fine...Affluent suburban schools, in my experience, don't have much truck with data. My own affluent suburban school district, for instance, grades itself on a strictly pass-fail basis. Percent passing the state tests, percent failing the state tests. Percent passing AP exams, percent failing AP exams. We have many more passes than fails, and we are doing fine.
The question is: what does "doing fine" actually mean in the larger scheme of things?
The Global Report Card, which ranks US schools against schools in 25 developed countries, puts Montgomery Township schools at the 76th percentile in math, 83rd in reading.
As to Finland and Singapore, here are the numbers for Montgomery Township:
Mind you, these aren't apples-to-apples comparisons. Montgomery Township is affluent and well-educated; assuming I understand the website, affluent children with well-educated parents in Montgomery Township are not being compared to affluent children with well-educated parents in Finland, Singapore, and Canada. Affluent children with well-educated parents in Montgomery Township are being compared to all students in Finland, Singapore, and Canada.
If Montgomery Township students are in, say, the 90th percentile of US students in math (they may be higher), is it "fine" for them to be in the 56th percentile in math in Singapore?
Princeton trivia: Ben Bernanke served on the Montgomery Township Board of Education.