Source: WSJ, Feb 2012
The report said that the top education systems in the world were all in the Asian region – namely Hong Kong, South Korea, Shanghai and Singapore.
The average 15-year old in Shanghai is performing math at levels that are two or three years ahead of students in the U.S., Australia, the U.K. and Europe, according to the report, which was based on data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Program for International Student Assessment.
Hong Kong students are at least one year ahead in reading and math when compared to U.S. and European children, the report said.
East Asian primary and secondary schools are better at addressing their own weaknesses and know how to improve the classroom through policy, the study said. In 2006, Hong Kong raised the reading levels of its students to No. 2 in international assessments, up from 17th just five years earlier. Singapore has cut courses for teachers that don’t result in higher performance for their students.
Educational institutions in East Asia are also doing more with less, the study says. South Korea spends around half of what the U.S. spends on its primary school students, yet South Korean pupils outperform their U.S. counterparts in reading, math and science.
The U.S. has already taken notice of East Asia’s educational prowess. Earlier this month, a memorandum of understanding was signed between Singapore and the U.S., building on an earlier agreement in 2002 that focused on the teaching and learning of math and science. The new MOU continues to prioritize the two subjects as key areas of collaboration between the two countries, with Singapore having some of the best math and science high school scores in the world – and the U.S. some of the worst.