America Achieves Report: Middle Class and Middle of the Pack

New report reveals America's middle class students are lagging behind other nations but some individual U.S. schools are global leaders—outperforming every country in the world

Apr 03, 2013, 10:05 ET from America Achieves

WASHINGTON, April 3, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- America Achieves today released new data showing that America's middle class schools have a long way to go to be best in the world.  The report is based on new analyses of math and science data disaggregated by economic and social advantage from the 2009 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA).  U.S. students in the second to top quarter of socio-economic advantage lag behind their international peers—significantly outperformed by 24 countries and regions in math and 15 in science.  Previously published results show that U.S. students in the second quarter of economic advantage lag significantly behind 10 other countries in reading.

The report also has some good news -- highlighting individual U.S. schools that are global leaders.  These include U.S. high schools that literally outperform -- on average -- every country in the world.  For example, Woodson High School in Virginia and BASIS Tucson North in Arizona outperformed most other nations on this assessment.  Meanwhile, a middle class school serving a similar student population was outperformed by 29 countries in math, 21 in science, and 35 in reading.  As it turns out, under its home state grading system based on their state assessment, this globally lagging school earned an "A" in 2011-2012.

These school-level results come from a pilot study involving 105 U.S. high schools that took a new test known as the OECD test for schools based on the highly respected Program for International Student Assessment or "PISA exam."  This test is a school-level internationally benchmarked tool that measures reading, math and science knowledge and skills of 15 year olds—as well as key competencies such as critical thinking and problem-solving. 

Starting in the fall of 2013, any school that wants to benchmark themselves against high performing countries and schools can take the OECD test for schools.  Financial support from major foundations including Bloomberg Philanthropies, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the Kern Family Foundation will make the next phase of the project possible.  This phase includes improvement of the test and growth of the program.  To see the full report and or to get more information on how your school can take the global challenge please go to

SOURCE America Achieves