Daniel A. Domenech, executive director of AASA, The School Superintendents Association, issued the following statement following the release of the Program for International Student Assessment by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. This is a test of reading literacy, mathematics and science given every three years to 15-year-olds in the United States and approximately 70 countries worldwide.
“AASA is grateful to the OECD for releasing this information as we work to produce programs and policies to improve schools and school districts throughout our country on behalf of our students. According to the report: http://www.oecd.org/pisa/keyfindings/pisa-2012-results-overview.pdf
“With respect to these results, it’s important to realize that children in the United States are not falling behind. Today, the dropout rate, which has been declining steadily since 1972, is the lowest it has ever been. High school completion rates have been trending up as we have the highest high school graduation rate in decades (78.2 percent during 2009-10).
“The problem we find in American education isn’t that schools are ‘falling behind,’ it is that schools are ‘pulling apart.’ Poverty in America is the real issue behind today’s education gap, and it means students can experience different education trajectories because of where they live. Poverty is a reality and cannot be used as an excuse. It is something we must address if we are serious about bolstering student learning and closing achievement gaps, whether on NAEP, PISA or any other educational metric.
“NAEP (the National Assessment of Educational Progress) scores indicate higher academic achievement occurs in schools with the lowest percentage of kids on free and reduced lunch. Conversely, schools with lower academic achievement are the ones with the highest percentage of kids on free and reduced lunch. It is clear that poverty is a key indicator of academic performance and it seems that zip codes are the greatest predictor of achievement.
“At AASA, we continue to work diligently with our local school system leaders to provide solutions in their respective communities by developing programs and services for children of poverty. In an effort to level the playing field, our nation needs to increase our investment in early childhood programs. This is one way to stabilize America’s education system. Once we increase our investment in education, more students, regardless of where they live, will reach greater achievement levels.”
AASA, The School Superintendents Association, founded in 1865, is the professional organization for more than 10,000 educational leaders in the United States and throughout the world. AASA’s mission is to support and develop effective school system leaders who are dedicated to the highest quality public education for all children. For more information, visit www.aasa.org.