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Surpassing Shanghai: An Agenda for American Education Built on the World's Leading Systems

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This book answers a simple question: How would one redesign the American education system if the aim was to take advantage of everything that has been learned by countries with the world’s best education systems? With a growing number of countries outperforming the United States on the most respected comparisons of student achievement—and spending less on education per stu This book answers a simple question: How would one redesign the American education system if the aim was to take advantage of everything that has been learned by countries with the world’s best education systems? With a growing number of countries outperforming the United States on the most respected comparisons of student achievement—and spending less on education per student—this question is critical. Surpassing Shanghai looks in depth at the education systems that are leading the world in student performance to find out what strategies are working and how they might apply to the United States. Developed from the work of the National Center on Education and the Economy, which has been researching the education systems of countries with the highest student performance for more than twenty years, this book provides a series of answers to the question of how the United States can compete with the world’s best.


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This book answers a simple question: How would one redesign the American education system if the aim was to take advantage of everything that has been learned by countries with the world’s best education systems? With a growing number of countries outperforming the United States on the most respected comparisons of student achievement—and spending less on education per stu This book answers a simple question: How would one redesign the American education system if the aim was to take advantage of everything that has been learned by countries with the world’s best education systems? With a growing number of countries outperforming the United States on the most respected comparisons of student achievement—and spending less on education per student—this question is critical. Surpassing Shanghai looks in depth at the education systems that are leading the world in student performance to find out what strategies are working and how they might apply to the United States. Developed from the work of the National Center on Education and the Economy, which has been researching the education systems of countries with the highest student performance for more than twenty years, this book provides a series of answers to the question of how the United States can compete with the world’s best.

30 review for Surpassing Shanghai: An Agenda for American Education Built on the World's Leading Systems

  1. 4 out of 5

    Sean Kottke

    Absolutely essential reading for informing educational policy conversations through the lens of international benchmarking.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Britta

    Surpassing Shanghai offers a fascinating look into the education systems of five top PISA performers. It also offers an approach for the US to take in education reform based off of an amalgamation of these country's tactics. My biggest beef with this book was Tucker's big press for recruiting teachers from the top of their classes. I definitely hear the call for intelligent teachers, but intelligence isn't everything; intelligent teachers who don't have the skills to interact successfully with c Surpassing Shanghai offers a fascinating look into the education systems of five top PISA performers. It also offers an approach for the US to take in education reform based off of an amalgamation of these country's tactics. My biggest beef with this book was Tucker's big press for recruiting teachers from the top of their classes. I definitely hear the call for intelligent teachers, but intelligence isn't everything; intelligent teachers who don't have the skills to interact successfully with children won't get very far. I also believe that some of the most intelligent people out there are low performers in school. My other issue with this book is that all of these countries (or, in the case of Shanghai, a municipality) are much smaller in size and/or population than the US. While interesting and thought provoking to look at their education systems, much of what these countries do isn't practical for implementation in the US due to the US's size, history, and culture. None the less, I enjoyed Surpassing Shanghai. It offers a lot to think about when considering education reform in the US.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jonna Higgins-Freese

    Best comparative education policy/practice book I have read. The authors begin by quickly debunking a number of myths that are often used to explain/excuse why other countries are not *really* performing better than the US (they don't educate _all_ students or they don't have the kinds of diversity/immigration patterns we do) to show that, indeed, other countries are doing better than the US, even with that kind of complexity. -- US does not educate everyone. 25-30% of US students drop out of hig Best comparative education policy/practice book I have read. The authors begin by quickly debunking a number of myths that are often used to explain/excuse why other countries are not *really* performing better than the US (they don't educate _all_ students or they don't have the kinds of diversity/immigration patterns we do) to show that, indeed, other countries are doing better than the US, even with that kind of complexity. -- US does not educate everyone. 25-30% of US students drop out of high school. Typically much smaller proportion in other OECD countries (7) -- "Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and Hong Kong, all with percentages of immigrant students equal to or greater than the United States, all outperform the United States in reading" (7) -- "even our suburban schools score only very slightly above the OECD average" (8) -- even our top performing students do not do as well as top performers in Australia, Canada, Finalnd, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, and Shanghai (8) --US comes in below PISA average on resilience "student who are in the bottom quarter of the PISA index of economic, social, and cultural status but who score in the top quarter on the PISA achievement measures" (8) --poverty does impact US student performance -- but SES is a better predictor of achievement in US than other OECD coutnries (8) --only three OECD countries pay their teachers less than we do in the US -- countries that prioritize teacher salaries over class size get better results -- half of OECD countries provide more teachers per capita to their disadvantaged students than they do for average students. -- assign strongest teachers to schools with students facing biggest challenges The authors are clear-eyed that in the United States, education reform must be handled a the state level, and they recommend a very sensible, pragmatic plan of following Canada's lead that would get us to Canadian performance levels and then beyond. They provide a useful framework for understanding that *systems* and *cultures* rather than particular tactics, are critical, by articulating the difference between Tayloristic work organization, which is what US schools currently have, and a Deming(ian? esque) system. Under a Tayloristic system, there is a known or knowable set of bet practices that will allow us to standardize our work and provide consistent quality; what is needed is a fixed set of best practices which everyone should follow. Deming's work is more relevant to the schools of today, where the work is knowledge-based and conducted by professionals, where there are certainly better practices, but no fixed ones, and where improvement is best achieved by professionals taking responsibility for their own practice and improvement. That said, they distill a handful of key features that characterize the best school systems: 1. Aggressive international benchmarking 2. Quality teaching force 3. Use of aligned instructional systems and external examinations that measure complex thinking skills 4. Deciding to get all students to those standards 5. Use of professional systems of work organization instead of blue collar models 6. Funding systems that put the most funds behind the students who are hardest to educate 7. Coherence in the design of the overall education system itself. They cite the Canadian model as potentially especially relevant. Although the Canadians have not had time to *replace* their low-achieving teaching force, they have been able to work with that force in partnership (versus conflict) to raise professional standards. In part, this is because they fund school inequitably -- by giving more funding to those students who have greater need (disability, poverty, etc.).

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I liked that it was fairly multiconsiderational of what a good education consists of, although it was ridiculously critical of Chinese high school/college for reasons I cannot comprehend. The way this book was structured, it was like shopping - as if I could cherry pick aspects of international education systems I liked and incorporate them into my own superstructure (which would be nice, but unfeasible). A fairly solid collection of articles that encapsulate the different strengths and weakness I liked that it was fairly multiconsiderational of what a good education consists of, although it was ridiculously critical of Chinese high school/college for reasons I cannot comprehend. The way this book was structured, it was like shopping - as if I could cherry pick aspects of international education systems I liked and incorporate them into my own superstructure (which would be nice, but unfeasible). A fairly solid collection of articles that encapsulate the different strengths and weaknesses in pedagogical focus.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Caroline

    Pretty interesting look at the "best" education systems in the world and how they work. I say "best" because I'm skeptical of basing success almost entirely on PISA results, and all the analysis seemed overly optimistic of these other countries. That said, there are definitely things to be learned from how other countries approach teaching and learning, and this book explores those possibilities fairly thoroughly. Pretty interesting look at the "best" education systems in the world and how they work. I say "best" because I'm skeptical of basing success almost entirely on PISA results, and all the analysis seemed overly optimistic of these other countries. That said, there are definitely things to be learned from how other countries approach teaching and learning, and this book explores those possibilities fairly thoroughly.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Mills College Library

    371.20097 S9619 2011

  7. 5 out of 5

    David Huyck

    Very interesting! Intriguing premise that will sure to fuel many a debate!

  8. 4 out of 5

    LPenting

    The one book on American educational reform that all US Presidential candidates must read.

  9. 4 out of 5

    nikki

    This book is not an easy read, but worth the drudgery if you are at all interested in education policy.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Cara Lee

  11. 4 out of 5

    Tyler Barnett

  12. 4 out of 5

    John Todd

  13. 4 out of 5

    Noel Sander

  14. 4 out of 5

    Pat Mulroy

  15. 5 out of 5

    Lori

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kimberly

  17. 5 out of 5

    Dennis Ashendorf

  18. 5 out of 5

    Naomi Migliacci

  19. 5 out of 5

    Michael

  20. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

  21. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Dean

  22. 4 out of 5

    Laura

  23. 5 out of 5

    Tom

  24. 5 out of 5

    LaMarcus

  25. 5 out of 5

    Diane

  26. 4 out of 5

    Robin

  27. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

  28. 5 out of 5

    Dan

  29. 4 out of 5

    Cherry_fs

  30. 4 out of 5

    Allie

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