Much has been written about achievement gaps in the United States, with even more energy and dollars devoted to reducing them, for decades now.
Not only has seeking to help low-income and minority children do much better academically been an essential quest — one that must continue — but it’s also fair to say it has been at the very core of our attempts to significantly improve American elementary and secondary education.
Yet it’s also fair to say that another large achievement gap has been mostly ignored over this same long period: The dangerous distance between America’s strongest students and their counterparts around the world — with top pupils elsewhere consistently coming out ahead.
Just one example: Six percent of U.S. students perform at what’s called “advanced proficiency” in math. This is a smaller proportion than in 30 other nations.