The Power of Educational Benchmarking

Mark Marich

If the US hopes to maintain an international leadership position in education and human capital, it needs to do a better job of learning from other countries, societies, and institutions that often do a better job of preparing young people to prosper in the 21st century economy. Benchmarking for Success:  Ensuring U.S. Students Receive a World-Class Education, a new report from the National Governors Association, the Council of Chief State School Officers, and Achieve, Inc., argues that American educators must do benchmarking right if they truly want to achieve world-class educational outcomes.

For many, benchmarking is a simple process of comparing yourself to others or setting up performance targets or “benchmarks.” If done right, benchmarking is a more rigorous exercise that seeks to study those who perform better and to integrate those lessons into one’s own operations and programs. In education, this means that American educators needs to look overseas and to track student and educator performance on best-in-class international standards. It is insufficient for American states to simply compare themselves to one another or even to review their own performance from a historical perspective. They need to ensure that their state education performance is not simply among the best in the US, but is among the best in the world.

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