Global competitiveness could prove to be a big issue this upcoming presidential election cycle.

To achieve global competitiveness, many argue students in the United States must be educated to achieve test scores on par with other nations. In turn, they will be prepared for the global economic challenges of tomorrow. As it stands now, out of 65 nations, the United States scored 29 on international scores for mathematics. Shanghai, however, scored number one, according to New York Review of Books.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, legislators and the Obama Administration “looked longingly at Shanghai’s stellar results and wondered why American students could not surpass them,” New York Review of Books writes. Are we falling behind the rest of the world? Does this mean economic disaster for the United States? Duncan believes our international scores demonstrate this may be the case.

Some politicians, such as Jeb Bush, are mentioning China as an example of where the United States should be. According to Pioneer Institute’s article, which cites independent studies that question the competency of Common Core Standards, “To achieve global competitiveness in K-12 education, America must do better than a one-size-fits-all set of mediocre standards.”

To loosely quote Political Science Professor Michael Corrigan from an article written on Bloomberg, Jeb Bush’s “pro-business approach as a governor” has its origins in real estate and is deeply steeped in old money and family ties to China. As an entrepreneur and a politician with an agenda of both increasing educational standards and ensuring economic success, he has good reason to raise the bar.

Yet Duncan, legislators, and policymakers, including Jeb Bush and the Obama Administration, still insist on raising test score standards to the point where students simply can’t be expected to achieve the desired results. In this system, teachers are to blame for being unable to motivate students to perform well on tests.

So the question is this: if “dangling the carrot” isn’t working for our students, what’s working so well for China?

The New York Times writes, “To prepare for an endless barrage of secondary-school exams, Zhang Ruifan learned to memorize entire science textbooks. So when his family sent him to high school in the United States, he was so far ahead of his fellow freshmen in math and science that he usually knew the correct answer even before the teacher had finished speaking.”

The article point outs that, concerning science, regurgitating facts and watching PowerPoint slides won’t ignite that innovative spark that arises from experimentation–a strength of the United States. Perhaps the two nations can learn from each other here.

If you’re involved in international admissions and/or China admissions specifically, be ready and aware for how the upcoming presidential election will affect educational standards. Hopefully there will be serious discussion around academic preparedness and who the US should be benchmarking itself against…

What do you think about this issue? Any guesses about whether international education and admissions will be part of the US presidential discussion? Let us know in the comment section below!

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