Educational Insights Blog

The educational industrial complex has been flooding the media for the past several years with a scary message about how our schools and our teachers are failing. What they are referring to is the PISA test (Program for International Student Assessment). As compared to other countries, students in the United States preform poorly on the PISA test. Not just poorly, but at or near the bottom of the list of the countries we are competing against. Sounds scary, right? We can't allow those other countries to overtake us! If they do, what does that mean for the future of America?

As Diane Ravitch mentions in her blog post titled, "My View of the PISA Scores," what the educational industrial complex fails to mention is the historical context. 20 years ago, 30, 40, 50 -- actually ever since they started doing international testing, children from the United States have always preformed at or near the bottom of the list of countries we were competing against.

By now though, parents of school aged children in the United States are convinced that there is a problem and they are buying into the educational industrial complex message that the solution to the problem is more testing. So now public and many private schools are focusing on testing and are teaching to the test. Which creates an opportunity cost.

As Diane says:

The more we focus on tests, the more we kill creativity, ingenuity, and the ability to think differently. Students who think differently get lower scores. The more we focus on tests, the more we reward conformity and compliance, getting the right answer.

Creativity, ingenuity, and the ability to think differently -- aren't those the traits that have made America strong? Aren't those the traits you need to solve problems? Aren't those the traits we want our children to have? Instead we are teaching our children to get really good at choosing which circle to color in.

You can read Diane Ravitch's blog post here.

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