How do Ohio districts' performance compare to international peers?

The George W. Bush Presidential Center
(in Dallas) recently released data on international student achievement in both
reading and math, which you can peruse in an interactive tool, the Global
Report Card
. The report card compares 2007 math
and reading achievement levels between districts across the nation and 25
developed nations. 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 our nation’s students measure up against their
future global competition.

How does Ohio fare? In short, Ohio’s
major city school districts don’t stack up well at all against their international

Among the eight districts, Akron Public
Schools had the best showing, ranking in the 28th percentile in math
and the 41st percentile in reading. Dayton Public Schools and
Youngstown City Schools struggled even more by comparison.  Both cities
ranked in the bottom 15 percent in math while ranking in the 24th
and 25th percentiles respectively in reading.  Chart 1 shows
how Ohio’s major urban districts fared in comparison to their international

1: International achievement benchmarking of Ohio’s “Big 8” districts

Chart 1 for Matt's piece .jpg

The Global Report Card,
George W. Bush Presidential Center

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 doing too well either. Chart
2 depicts examples of some of the high-wealth, high-performing suburban districts
surrounding Ohio’s big cities and how they compare to their international

2: International achievement benchmarking of select suburban Ohio districts

Chart 2 for Matt's piece.png

The Global Report Card,
George W. Bush Presidential Center

Considering that most of these
districts are among the highest performing districts in their area, 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.

originally appeared on Flypaper, Fordham’s blog.

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