June 16, 2009
AFT Media Affairs
Statement by AFT President Randi Weingarten
On ‘The Second Derivative:
International Benchmarks in Mathematics for U.S. States and School Districts'
Students' math test scores in the United States are in line with the average scores of other developed nations but trail the world's top-scoring nations, according to "The Second Derivative: International Benchmarks in Mathematics for U.S. States and School Districts," released today by the American Institutes for Research.
WASHINGTON—To achieve top academic performance, this report and others reinforce the need for strong, standards-based education systems. While all nations that perform better than the United States have such standards-based systems, some nations that perform worse also have such systems in place. The AFT believes that to become a top performer, in addition to implementing a standards-based system, the United States must develop a less tangible, but no less important, culture that values education, respects teachers, and supports children and their families.
We can safely conclude that all students need common standards that clearly identify expected skills and knowledge; content-rich, sequenced curriculum; and high-quality assessments aligned to the standards. Teachers also need model lesson plans, quality professional development and other resources to do their job well.
But implementing a strong, standards-based system is insufficient, as some countries have found, unless there also is an effort to allow teachers to collaborate with school leaders so they can be as effective as possible, and to ensure that disadvantaged children and their families get the supports they need to level the playing field.
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The AFT represents more than 1.4 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.