Amanda Ripley


The Girl from Finland

When Elina came to America from Finland at age 16, all she knew about American high schools she’d learned from movies. She thought every street would look like Rodeo Drive, and every Friday would be like prom night.

17th Feb 2014 in Education

How Poland Became an Education Superpower

In 2000, Polish 15-year-olds scored below average for the developed world (and below American teens) on an international test of critical thinking. Twelve years later, they ranked at the top of the world--up there with Finland and Canada, and well above the U.S.

What happened in Poland? How did a big country with a high rate of child poverty evolve from a communist backwater into an education powerhouse? 

30th Jan 2014 in Education

The Olympics of Smarts

Christmas came early this year. The new PISA results are out. (PISA = a relatively sophisticated test of critical thinking administered to half a million 15 year-olds every three years in 65 countries.) This year is especially intriguing for the US because the focus is on math—our biggest weakness.

So I’ve been hunkered down, reading through the 3,000 pages of analysis and data—which go far beyond what you read in the headlines—to see what we can learn.

4th Dec 2013 in Education

Are International Comparisons Unfair?

As I travel around the country talking to people about The Smartest Kids, I keep running into the same objection: "Other countries only test some of their kids; we test all of our kids"...

19th Sep 2013 in Education

The 14 y.o. Who Inspired Me to Leave the Country

The boy who inspired me to leave the country was named Wilfried Hounyo. I met him while reporting in DC public schools for Time a few years ago. Wilfried's parents had recently moved him and his four brothers and sisters to the U.S. from Benin, a tiny country in West Africa, so that the children could get a better education and have a brighter future.

15th Aug 2013 in Education

The $4 Million Teacher

Kim Ki-hoon earns $4 million a year in South Korea, where he is known as a rock-star teacher—a combination of words not typically heard in the rest of the world.

4th Aug 2013 in Education

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