Author: Daniel Silver

Progressive Education Works—But Only for Those Who Need The System Least

In the latest OECD student-evaluation rankings, Australia performed dismally. Average benchmark PISA test results for the country’s 15-year-old students have declined more since 2003 than those for any other developed country except Finland. In mathematics proficiency, Australian students are now below the OECD average. And they are a full year behind in scientific and reading literacy compared with those who sat the test two decades ago. Of course, PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) is not the only measure of progress. And outperforming other countries is not the goal of our education system. According to a 2008 declaration from the country’s Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs, the real goal is that “all young Australians become successful learners, confident and creative individuals, and active and informed citizens,” so as to produce a “democratic, equitable and just society…that is prosperous, cohesive and culturally diverse, and that values Australia’s Indigenous cultures as a key part of the nation’s history, present and future.” But notice that these are social goals, not educational standards. Unsurprisingly, Australia …