Column: Programme for International Student Assessment results call for American education reform

Column: Programme for International Student Assessment results call for American education reform

After the Dec. 3 release of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) results, the disparity and ineffectiveness of the American educational system is in full sight, showing the depth of ineptitude in our nation’s system. This year’s testing was on par with the results from the past decade, which theoretically should be a beneficial sign. However, when the big picture is thrown in, this news is hallowing.

Many other nations have been continuously rising on PISA testing charts, especially those in Southeastern Asia and Indonesia. In math, the U.S. ranked 26th in the world, with particular difficulties in evaluating real-world mathematical problems. Science experienced a similar disparity, ranking at 21st globally. In comparison, Shanghai-China and Singapore came in first and second respectively in both categories, followed by Japan in Science and Chinese-Tapei in Math. In an increasingly technological world, these results are less than optimistic for the growth of American industry.

There is no excuse or explanation for this educational calamity than the failure of the American education system as a whole. From early on, American education fails to adequately prepare our students for the rigors and expectations of the globalized workforce. Especially with the shift in top-tier management of a focus on robotic labor over manual labor, high-paying, low-skilled jobs are few and far between. What this means is that Americans can no longer rely on a mediocre high school education to give them a well-paying job. From this, it can logically be concluded that America needs to strengthen its education system to reflect the growing difficulty in the job market. Unfortunately, this hasn’t happened.

Public schools across the nation are mired in underfunding and overpopulation. In far too many classrooms, teachers are lecturing in front of nearly 40 students, many of whom are texting or otherwise unengaged. They aren’t learning problem solving strategies or interdisciplinary thought processes, but instead using rote memorization to pass tests and get by. But again, this problem stems deeper than supposed non-motivation from our students. The fault lies truly in economics. On the one hand, it is simply too difficult to provide the quality of education that each student deserves with the little amount of funding each public school receives. Even more deleterious than this, though, is the poor economics for teachers themselves. Fewer and fewer smart, motivated, and motivating teachers enter the profession, since they know that there is little to no economic benefit in it. Many choose other life paths that are more beneficial to them individually, but end up harming the nation as a whole. Instead, teaching should be an honored and promoted profession, as it was in ancient Greece and Rome. With more economic incentive and options, both quality of teaching and opportunities for students will arise, culminating in better PISA test results and, more importantly, better performance for America in the extremely competitive global job market.