This year's battle over the introduction of Common Core standards in public schools has diverted attention from a more important but quieter battle led by teachers unions to eliminate school accountability and teacher evaluations. These two measures are the real engines that will drive educational improvement, and it's critical that attempts to do away with them be blocked. The Common Core was designed to replace the hodge-podge of standards in place in the individual states with a national proclamation of what all students should know in each subject and grade. The standards were developed under the auspices of the National Governors Association and strongly backed by the U.S. Department of Education.
According to PISA, the United States placed significantly below the average for member-nations in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development for mathematics—and significantly worse than the OECD distribution at both ends of the assessment spectrum, with more low performers and fewer high performers. By historical patterns, improving our achievement – which identifies the human capital of our workforce in the future – has huge economic ramifications. Education Week, January 8, 2014

Paul E. Peterson and Eric A. Hanushek

One metric of the failure of American public education is that only 32% of U.S. high-school students are proficient in math. According to our calculations, raising student test scores in this country up to the level in Canada would dramatically increase economic growth. We estimate that the additional growth dividend is equivalent to adding an average 20% to the paycheck of every worker for every year of work over the next 80 years.

Wall Street Journal, September 11, 2013

Endangering Prosperity

Eric A. Hanushek, Paul E. Peterson, and Ludger Woessmann

The relative deficiencies of U.S. public schools are a serious concern to parents and policymakers. But they should be of concern to all Americans, as a globalizing world introduces new competition for talent, markets, capital, and opportunity. Endangering Prosperity compares the performance of American schools against that of other nations. The net result is a mixed but largely disappointing picture that clearly shows where improvement is most needed. The authors describe explicitly the economic costs of a stagnant educational system. It is a wake-up call for structural reform. To move forward to a different and better future requires that we understand just how serious a situation America faces today.

Foreword by Lawrence H. Summers

School Leaders Matter

Gregory F. Branch, Eric A. Hanushek, and Steven G. Rivkin

It is widely believed that a good principal is the key to a successful school. Yet until very recently there was little rigorous research demonstrating the importance of principal quality for student outcomes, much less the specific practices that cause some principals to be more successful than others. This study provides new evidence on the importance of school leadership by estimating individual principals’ contributions to growth in student achievement. Our results indicate that highly effective principals raise the achievement of a typical student in their schools by between two and seven months of learning in a single school year; ineffective principals lower achievement by the same amount.

Education Next, Winter 2013

Eric A. Hanushek and Alfred A. Lindseth

Spurred by court rulings requiring states to increase public-school funding, the United States now spends more per student on K-12 education than almost any other country. Yet American students still achieve less than their foreign counterparts, their performance has been flat for decades, and poor and minority students remain far behind more advantaged peers. In this book, Hanushek and Lindseth trace the history of reform efforts and conclude that the focus of both courts and legislatures on ever-increasing funding has done little to improve student achievement. As an alternative, the authors propose a performance-based system that directly links funding to success in raising student achievement.

Endangering Prosperity
School Leaders Matter