The George W. Bush Institute has a new “Global Report Card” looking at test scores for each school district in the United States against students around the world on international exams.
Districts across Pennsylvania have a lot of work to do to catch up.
The average Philadelphia student does worse than 80% of students worldwide in math; Harrisburg students do worse in math than 93% of their international competitors. Duquesne City students rank only at the 13th percentile in reading and math results. This probably won’t shock most readers, as we’ve written frequently on failing schools across Pennsylvania.
But the results also show that our “best” districts aren’t among the elite. The average student in Lower Merion—one of the wealthiest, and highest spending districts in the state—is only at the 66th percentile among students worldwide in math (better in reading, at the 79th percentile). About 40 percent of international students do better than the average Derry Township student in math, and 30% do better in reading. Fox Chapel students in suburban Pittsburgh score at the 66th percentile in math and 77th in reading.
If students in our best schools are middling, and those in our poorest schools are behind most of their international competitors, isn’t it time for something different?