Reign of Error, by Diane Ravitch, contains a question posed by Yong Zhao, a Chinese-born educator and, at the time the book was published, a professor at the University of Oregon, “‘If China, a developing country aspiring to move into an innovative society, has been working to emulate U.S. education, why does America want to abandon it?'”
Vivek Wadhwa, an Indian American technology entrepreneur and academic, challenged the popular perception that U.S. schools are failing and that we are doing poorly in comparison to those in China and India. it is true, he said, that the schools of those nations are ‘fiercely competitive,’ and that children spend most of their childhood ‘memorizing books on advanced subjects.’ This kind of education has been a hinderance … and that is why so many engineers trained in these schools and universities must spend two or three years unlearning habits instilled by rote memorization. By contrast, American students learn independence and social skills. ‘They learn to experiment, challenge norms, and take risks. They can think for themselves, and they can innovate. That is why America remains the world leader in innovation.'”
High stakes testing prepares students to be high-stakes test takers, “but there is no relationship between a nation’s productivity and its test scores.”
Greatness is not a score, it is students who, at a minimum, have the public-provided resources that provide the necessary conditions for learning, are given the academic and spiritual conditions to thrive, and choose to be great.
Note: The bold font in the Wahwa quote is mine, not the author’s.