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Martin Carnoy, (650) 906-7469,
Dan Quinn, (517) 203-2940,

Review of America Achieves Report Cites No Evidence To Support Call For Additional International Testing

EAST LANSING, Mich. (June 4, 2013) – A recent report remarks that U.S. students are performing inadequately on the math and science portions of the PISA (Program of International Student Assessment) exam, an international test run by the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development). The authors of the report consider the PISA results a "wake up call to America's middle class" and contend in response that U.S. high schools should start taking part in a new international test that is to compare the academic knowledge and skills of 15-year-olds- around the world. However, a review of the report released today finds no evidence to support the report's arguments.

Martin Carnoy of Stanford University reviewed Middle Class or Middle of the Pack: What can we learn when benchmarking U.S. schools against the world's best. The report was reviewed for the Think Twice think tank review project, published by the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) with funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

Carnoy points out that with its report, America Achieves, an educational reform advocacy group, promotes the idea that individual school performance participation on such international tests offers a valid means of comparing improving the school effectiveness of various national school systems and the effectives of national education systems. Yet he notes that the report itself fails to support this claim, and the claim is also not supported by PISA reports or the broader literature on school improvement and educational reform.

The America Achieves report "is not grounded in research but rather is an assertion that measurement, by itself, is an effective reform tool." And it makes that assertion without ever explaining how the test in question would be linked to curricula or strategies tailored to teaching mathematics and science, or to specific teacher professional development strategies.

"Thus the report is of no utility to policymakers," Carnoy concludes.

Find Martin Carnoy's review on the Great Lakes Center website:

Find Middle Class or Middle of the Pack: What can we learn when benchmarking U.S. schools against the world's best, published by America Achieves, on the web at:

Think Twice, a project of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC), provides the public policymakers and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. The project is made possible with the support of the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and practice.

This review is also found on the NEPC website:


The mission of the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice is to support and disseminate high quality research and reviews of research for the purpose of informing education policy and to develop research-based resources for use by those who advocate for education reform.

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