NC Students Struggle to Compete
Special Report - February 9, 2012
North Carolina students are struggling to keep up with the academic achievements of their peers around the world, according to a newly released report by the John Locke Foundation. In the report, “North Carolina vs. the World: Comparisons of Educational Inputs and Outcomes,” Director of Educational Studies, Dr. Terry Stoops documents how North Carolina schools and students compare to countries around the world.
According to the report, although the North Carolina State Board of Education and the N.C. Department of Public Instruction have asserted that our state must “produce globally competitive students,” the state still has yet to implement a uniform way to accurately measure the state’s progress compared to other nations. Despite this, the report notes that researchers have found their own way to monitor North Carolina’s progress, by comparing the state’s National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) to the scores of the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) or the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) test, which are two separate international measures for academic achievement.
According to the results of the comparison between North Carolina’s NAEP scores and the international measures, North Carolina “in most cases… hovers around the international average in reading and math.” Citing the troubling fact that two-thirds of North Carolina students “did not meet international proficiency standards” in science and math, the study ranked North Carolina’s performance as “comparable to those [students] of Poland and the United Kingdom and far behind the leaders of the pack.” For advanced level students, North Carolina fared even worse, as only eight percent of students were able to achieve those scores a ranking on par with students of the Czech Republic and Hungary.
Another key finding in the report is that North Carolina has one of the “highest spending levels” on education in the world. For example, in 2008, “North Carolina’s elementary schools’ per-student expenditure ranked sixth-highest in the world, and N.C.’s secondary schools’ expenditure was fifth highest.”
Compared to nations with students that have high academic performance, the report also notes that North Carolina lacks a comprehensive performance-pay system for teachers that “appears to be commonplace throughout the world,” and is “far below the international average in percentage of students that attended a charter or charter-like school.”
To make North Carolina more competitive on the international scale, the report concludes by recommending four reforms, which include that North Carolina:
"Despite ample resources, public school students in North Carolina fail to meet or exceed the performance of students in economically competitive European and Asian nations, who easily outperform students from the Tar Heel State," said Dr. Terry Stoops, JLF Director of Education Studies in a press release. "Simply put, the state has failed in its goal of producing 'globally competitive' students. That failure is cause for serious concern."
- Develop a comprehensive performance pay system for teachers and administrators using value-added and other measures.
- Adopt high-quality assessments and curricula that are nationally or internationally benchmarked.
- Continue efforts to promote transparency and data-driven decision making.
- Raise teacher quality by reducing barriers to the profession and strengthening teacher accountability.
NC Test Scores Released - November 7, 2011
2011 Legislative Review - June 22, 2011
Education Day at the Legislature - June 10, 2011
NC Public Schools Leaving Children Behind - August 14, 2008
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