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We’re Just Test Prep Wimps

If US students are going to beat their Asian counterparts on international standardized assessments, which seems to be the educational goal of most politicians, we better stop being wimps when it comes to test prep.

The Shanghai students performed well, experts say, for the same reason students from other parts of Asia – including South Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong – do: Their education systems are steeped in discipline, rote learning and obsessive test preparation.

So, there’s our goal. We simply need to get American schools to rise to that same “obsessive” level.

Just ignore those misguided educators who whine  that “Chinese schools emphasized testing too much, and produced students who lacked curiosity and the ability to think critically or independently”.


  1. Brett

    Tim, I read a short article in FT that actually says that asked “So why did Shanghai do so well? The OECD points to Chinese school reforms: it was impressed by the initiative shown by teachers, who are now better paid, better trained and keen to mould their own curricula. Poor teachers are speedily replaced. China has also expanded school access, and moved away from learning by rote.”

    Since this seems to contradict the NYTimes article, it would be interesting to know what’s actually going on.


  2. Tim

    I also see many contradictions when it comes to press coverage, not to mention political statements, of international comparisons of education systems. We rely on a superficial analysis of our problems similar to what’s offered in the Times article and then try to apply it nationwide to all schools.

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