Is testing the answer to education system’s shortcomings?

As the academic standing of American students among their international peers has declined, one reaction has been to expand testing to the point where many students take state and federal exams at every grade level. But many countries whose education systems consistently outperform the United States’ test far less frequently, Stephen Sawchuk reports at Education Week.

A new report by the National Center on Education and the Economy finds that “no other country has grade-by-grade national testing,” Sawchuk says. High-performing nations such as Japan and Singapore tend to use tests at “gateways,” such as the end of elementary or secondary education.

Academically successful nations also have higher standards for teacher certification, and those standards are reflected in pay, autonomy and career opportunities. Finally, teacher unions in high-performing countries tend to focus more on professional issues than on “blue-collar work rules like seniority rights,” Sawchuk reports.