Higher Calling

In a handful of statehouses and universities across the country, a few farsighted Americans are finally pursuing what the world’s smartest countries have found to be the most efficient education reform ever tried.

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EducationAmanda 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.

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EducationAmanda Ripley
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? 

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EducationAmanda Ripley
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.

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EducationAmanda Ripley