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George W. Bush Institute Unveils Global Report Card 2.0

February 1, 2013 by Kerri L. Briggs

GEORGE W. BUSH INSTITUTE UNVEILS GLOBAL REPORT CARD 2.0

Latest study finds the majority of U.S. students falling behind international counterparts

DALLAS — The George W. Bush Institute has once again answered the question: how do U.S. public school districts stack up when compared to the rest of the world? The Bush Institute’s Global Report Card 2.0 (GRC) sought to find out if American students are learning the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in today's world, and the answers may surprise parents, educators and policymakers. “Parents across the country are thinking about the report cards their children will bring home for winter break, but the grades on this Global Report Card are every bit as important,” said Dr. Kerri Briggs, Director of Education Reform at the Bush Institute and former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education. “This report card is a wake-up call for parents because, while some progress is being made, we can now definitely see that our kids are not being prepared to compete in the global marketplace.” The GRC 2.0 study used test scores to compare the academic performance of nearly 14,000 U.S. school districts to the average performance of a group of 25 developed countries, including: France, Australia, Israel, Canada, and Singapore. In order to compare results over time, the school districts studied and the comparison nations remain the same as the original study conducted in 2011. The report was once again conducted by Dr. Jay Greene, George W. Bush Institute fellow and professor of education at the University of Arkansas, and co-authored by Josh B. McGee. “Many of the school districts that we traditionally think of as high performers are found to rank near the middle of the pack when we compare them to international peers,” said Dr. Greene. “While most people think our children are receiving a quality education, the fact is U.S. students are falling behind the rest of the world.” The Bush Institute’s GRC studies have tended to reveal surprising results when comparing performance nationally and internationally. Beverly Hills Unified in Los Angeles Country, for instance, is not excelling even with a relatively advantaged student population (six percent on Free and Reduced-price Lunch). Analysis of 2009 data gives Beverly Hills Unified a decent GRC score of 57 percent. Whereas Temple City, also in LA County, has a more traditionally disadvantaged student population (35 percent on Free and Reduced-price Lunch) and beats Beverly Hills with a GRC score of 59 percent. One eye-catching Colorado school district stands out for impressive performance. Poudre School District in Fort Collins is a large school district with a high percentage of students in poverty (25 percent on Free or Reduced-price Lunch) that boasts an impressive GRC score of 61 percent. That means the average public school student in Fort Collins can out-perform the average international student. Where results are somewhat less surprising due to ongoing challenges, such as Detroit (GRC score of 13 percent), bright spots still emerge. King Education, a charter school with 75 percent of students on Free and Reduced-price Lunch, managed a 2009 math GRC score of 53 percent. The GRC 2.0 findings are available at www.globalreportcard.org where visitors can compare any U.S. school district’s performance at the district, state, national and global level. Education Reform is one of the six major areas of engagement at the Bush Institute. The Global Report Card continues to make the case for why education reform is needed, and not just in urban areas. Other Bush Institute education reform initiatives in leadership, research and accountability are key levers for making America's schools more competitive and students more successful. The first effort, the Alliance to Reform Education Leadership (AREL), is based on the principle that effective leadership is a key factor in the equation for student and school success. AREL networks innovative principal preparation programs across the country and works on policy issues in educational leadership in an effort to empower and redefine the role of school leaders. Middle School Matters (MSM) is the second education program launched by the Institute. Knowing that middle school is a critical intervention point to keep students on the path to high school graduation, the program promotes the use of research- and evidence-based tools, practices and solutions and drives policy development to support improved student outcomes. Lastly, with a focus on academic and financial accountability, the Bush Institute will look for solutions to productivity challenges and promote next generation accountability systems that build on the principles found in “No Child Left Behind”. About the Global Report Card: Based on the groundbreaking educational reforms of No Child Left Behind, the Bush Institute champions change formulated around the principles of accountability. The goal of the Global Report Card is to provide easy-to-understand and widely accessible information about student performance to inform and inspire America’s families to stand for excellence in our nation’s schools. The GRC compares student achievement in U.S. school districts with international academic achievement to provide a true global measure of how America’s schools stack up. The results of the Global Report Card can be found and explored at www.globalreportcard.org.