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What We’ve Learned

Students in an increasing number of countries now outperform students in the U.S. in mathematics, reading and science. These systems produce not just higher achievement, but also produce more equitable results for all of their students—and it costs them much less per student to produce these outcomes. As a result, millennial workers in the U.S. are now tied for the lowest level of basic skills in the industrialized world. How have so many countries gotten so far ahead of us, and what can our country do to exceed them and meet the challenges of the future?

For three decades, the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE) has been studying high-performing systems to identify the common components underpinning the design of high-performing education systems. By benchmarking the strategies and policies of Canada, China, Estonia, Finland, Hong Kong, Japan, Poland, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan — all top performers on the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA)—NCEE has distilled these common components into the 9 Building Blocks for a World-Class Education System.

9 Building Blocks for a World-Class Education System

NCEE’s Center on International Education Benchmarking (CIEB) is the nation’s premier resource for information on the world’s top-performing education systems. It is a trusted authority for researchers and policy makers around the world and across the education landscape. CIEB both conducts and supports groundbreaking research into vital issues in education and workforce development. Through its various outreach platforms, it reaches more than 30,000 researchers, policy makers, and educators weekly.

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