Greater expectations: learning from other nations in the quest for 'world-class standards' in US school mathematics and science
Current educational policy debate in the US centres on educational standards and their possible role as primary motors of reform. A striking feature of the policy debate is its international character-with the question of the comparability of educational standards in the USA to those of its economic competitors becoming a primary concern of policy-makers, curriculum designers and other major actors in curriculum governance policy. Defining what constitute 'world-class' standards remains problematic. The US Research Centre for the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) has designed research to measure and portray standards in order to make empirical benchmarking studies possible. Using data from the USA and 21 high-achieving countries that participated in the study of national samples of curriculum documents and textbooks conducted as a component of the TIMSS, we explore two questions: What are the expectations regarding the performance of students held in the educational systems of the countries that perform among the best in the world?, and How do academic standards in the USA compare to the expectations of this select group of countries?