International Student Learning Comparisons Remind Why Dougco Is Raising Bar

When I’m running a race, no matter how short my little legs may be, I don’t want to be left in the middle of the pack: I want to break the tape first… I want to WIN!! In America, including Colorado, we tend to think our suburban schools serving middle-class students are largely doing just fine. But that all depends on your perspective and your point of comparison.

It’s well past time to think beyond the school district next door or across the state. A group called America Achieves just released a report titled “Middle Class or Middle of the Pack” that ought to help wake up some people. Many of the chief excuses for America’s humdrum or weak showing on international tests just sort of melt away:

Many assume that poverty in America is pulling down the overall U.S. scores, but when you divide each nation into socio-economic quarters, you can see that even America’s middle class students are falling behind not only students of comparable advantage but also more disadvantaged students in several other countries.

In the past I’ve told you about the Global Report Card and the picture of mediocre performance it paints even of many Colorado school districts. Even being middle class in America doesn’t necessarily give a student great hope these days.

Unless you’re going to the BASIS Tucson charter school or Woodson High School in Fairfax, Virginia. These two secondary centers of learning stand out among several schools featured in the American Achieves report. The average student at BASIS scores higher than any nation in the world on reading, math, and science, while Woodson is near the top and also bests countries like Finland and Singapore on almost every measure. How would your local high school stack up?

This report adds just that much more credence to the bold and innovative work Douglas County is doing to raise the bar on curriculum and expectations for students and teachers. Compared to other districts in the Denver metro area, along the Front Range, or in other parts of the Centennial State, Dougco is doing pretty good.

But leaders in Colorado’s third-largest school district are setting out to show that isn’t good enough. This new report reminds us why it’s a worthy and important task Dougco has undertaken on behalf of the next generation of citizens and globally competitive employees they’re now striving to educate. Don’t rest on your laurels and be happy stuck in the middle of the pack. Let’s aim to finish first! Here’s to wishing Dougco the best, as they set an example for others to follow.