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What We’re Reading | January 18, 2013

February 1, 2013 by Jacqueline Lowe

Report: Disadvantaged students in U.S. gaining on international peers The Hechinger Report, after looking at data of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), found that students in the United States had fared better on the exam in 2009 than previously thought.  Low-income students in the U.S. appear to have gained ground on other disadvantaged students around the world. “The most economically advantaged students in America, however, are slipping compared to their peers in the other countries that Carnoy and Rothstein analyzed. Still, the report’s authors warn against making sweeping conclusions about any country’s performance, pointing to a variety of factors that influence scores, from demographics to the tests themselves and how they are scored.” To find out where your school district ranks compared to the rest of the world, visit the Bush Institute’s Global Report Card. Freedom in the World 2013: Winners and Losers Freedom House has released its Freedom In The World 2013 report, ranking nations on a scale from “Free” to “Not Free”. Writing on the Freedom at Issue blog, Arch Puddington and Jennifer Dunham identify winners and losers in the report, which reveals a roller coaster-like global environment in which some countries experienced encouraging gains (Libya) while others dealt with precipitous declines (Mali) in the state of their liberty. “Ordinarily, Freedom in the World scores for individual countries move up or down in small increments. Yet for the year 2012, several countries registered across-the-board gains or declines that break the pattern of incremental changes.” States Compete Over Taxes Amity Shlaes, Director of the 4% Growth Project, points out this article about the Governor of Nebraska’s proposal to end his state’s income tax as part of a growing trend. Shlaes notes, “About a year ago, we were planning a tax conference about how the states were waging tax competition. Since then, tax competition has only sharpened. This follows Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal’s recent announcement that he intends to end his state’s tax on personal and corporate income.” The Bush Institute in Education Reform News Bush Institute Fellow Sandy Kress wrote this piece, entitled Voices of the Dropout Nation: Sandy Kress on the Future of No Child Left Behind – and the Need for Systemic Reform, on the 11th anniversary of No Child Left Behind. Kress noted, “On the very positive side, I continue to marvel at the remarkable academic gains in student achievement that have occurred as a result of the standards-based school reform movement. This movement began in the states in the mid-1990s and reached its high point with No Child extending it across the entire nation in the last decade. At the same time, I am also worried about keeping up the momentum for reform.” Bush Center blog post “What Makes an Effective School Principal?” by guest blogger Stephen M. Ross, with the Center for Research and Reform in Education at Johns Hopkins University, was recently re-posted on Education Week’s Sputnik blog. The blog post takes on how best to measure the effectiveness of school principals.