How do Ohio's low-and high-performing districts compare to international peers?


The George W. Bush Presidential Center, located in Dallas, Texas recently released data on international student achievement in both reading and math, which you can peruse in an interactive tool, the Global Report Card. It compares 2007 math and reading achievement levels between districts across the nation and 25 developed nations. It should be noted that the tool does not adjust for differences in race, socioeconomic status, or other classifications.? However, the tool is still useful to get an idea of how the districts measure up against their future global competition.

In short, Ohio's major city school districts have quite an abysmal showing compared to their international counterparts.?

Among the eight districts Akron Public Schools had the best showing, ranking in the 28th percentile in Math and the 41st percentile in reading. As poor of a result as this may seem, Dayton Public Schools and Youngstown City Schools struggled even more by comparison.? Both Dayton and Youngstown ranked in the bottom 15 percent in math while ranking respectively in the 24th and 25th percentiles in reading.? Here is how Ohio's big eight fared in comparison to their international counterparts:

What is more concerning is that these numbers improve (significantly in math) when these districts are measured against just the rest of the United States, meaning the country as a whole is continuing to fall behind other developed nations. This is largely due to the fact that many wealthier suburban school districts are not faring too well either. The following list is comprised of examples of some of the wealthiest suburban schools and how they compare to their international counterparts:

Considering that most of these districts are either the highest performing or one of the highest performing districts within their county, the numbers are rather unimpressive.? Not one of these top-end schools ranks even in the top 20 percent in math achievement, and only one district (Ottawa Hills) is barely in the top ten percent in reading achievement.?

After examining these figures, it is evident that not only are Ohio city school systems falling by the way-side, but the best public alternatives in the state are struggling to keep pace internationally, especially in mathematics.? Despite knowing U.S. schools have been falling behind other nations for some time, academic improvement is still proving to be elusive. In an age of globalization and increased worldwide competition these numbers combined with lackluster improvement paint a bleak picture for our future. Not to be redundant, but if the United States wishes to maintain a sense of global economic and political superiority then we still have work to do.

?-Matthew Kyle, Ohio Policy and Research Intern

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