Despite years of attention to “reform” in the United States, overall achievement on international assessments such as PISA has not improved during the period from 2000 to 2012. Reforms focused on high-stakes testing attached to sanctions, expansions of charter schools, and a market-based approach to teaching have been unsuccessful in changing outcomes. Meanwhile, growing childhood poverty, along with increasing segregation, income inequality, and disparities in school spending, have expanded the opportunity gap. Lessons from other nations and successful states indicate that systematic government investments in high-need schools along with capacity-building that improves the knowledge and skills of educators and the quality of curriculum opportunities are more effective ways of improving overall learning and reducing the achievement gap.
A new book, Global Education Reform: How Privatization and Public Investment Influence Education Outcomes, provides a powerful analysis of these different ends of an ideological spectrum – from market-based experiments to strong state investments in public education.