On Top of the News
Poverty Doesn’t Explain Poor American School Performance
1/27/14 | Talking Points Memo
Behind the Headline
When the Best is Mediocre
Winter 2012 | Education Next
Parents and teachers tell Amanda Ripley, author of The Smartest Kids in the World, that the reason U.S. students don’t do well in international comparisons is because of poverty. However, Ripley notes in a piece on TPM, even our most privileged kids score below their privileged peers in other countries. Despite that
Again and again, people insist that our affluent schools outperform the whole world. They cite dubious claims like this one, which compares average test scores for certain high-income American schools to average scores for entire countries—and conclude that our best schools are fantastic.
A study published in Education Next in 2011 looked at the performance of nearly every school district in the country and found that even the most elite suburban school districts produce results that are mediocre when compared to those of international peers.
According to the study, entitled “When the Best is Mediocre,” the math achievement of the average student in Beverly Hills, California, is at the 53rd percentile relative to the international comparison group. White Plains, New York, is at the 39th percentile; Evanston, Illinois is at the 48th percentile; Montgomery County, Maryland is at the 50th percentile; and Fairfax, Virginia is at the 49th percentile.