I’ve edited a picture from Carnoy and Rothstein’s report “What Do International Tests Really Show About U.S. Student Performance?” to show how students from the upper social classes compare in the U.S. relative to other countries. Here, “upper social class” is defined as coming from a home with many books on the shelves (200+ in the early years and 250+ later).
A quick glance shows that the U.S. does okay, as the lines aren’t far apart. (The comparison doesn’t look quite so good for math scores; more on this next time.) We’re not beating the competition, but we’re not lagging behind either.
There’s a reason a lot of well-off American parents are pretty pleased with their schools. Their schools ain’t half bad. If we’re going to improve U.S. education we need to do it in a way that doesn’t mess with the good parts.