Getting Schooled

They were the best of schools, they were the worst of schools.

Once again an international testing body has evaluated 15-year olds around the world in math, science, and reading and once again the US has come out below average. If an aggressive foreign power did this to our schools, the saying goes, it would be considered an act of war.

But people need to stop hyperventilating about tests and ranking. The experts sound like a bunch of preppies obsessing about their SAT scores. It’s hard to draw conclusions from aggregate scores when US school system is so diverse. Hidden in plain sight, though, is some interesting data. Finland does very well on these tests—it’s been written about as an exemplar of educational excellence. But right next door, Sweden does horribly: the worst in Europe.

Both countries have similar cultures, similar climates, and have diversified, industrial economies. But Sweden’s workers are far more productive than Finland’s, and its students are far happier. Now maybe they’re just happy because have sports teams and they don’t have as much math homework. But the engineers at Eriksson and Nokia get all the math the need. Test scores don’t predict productivity.

Most US schools do pretty well at imparting the basics and getting kids to learn. Parents who want more hire tutors, send their kids to private school, or homeschool. Our children may not all be above average, but the kids are all right.

Douglas R. Tengdin, CFA

Chief Investment Officer

By | 2017-07-17T12:34:36+00:00 December 5th, 2013|Global Market Update|0 Comments

About the Author:

Mr. Tengdin is the Chief Investment Officer at Charter Trust Company and author of “The Global Market Update”. The audio version of each post can be heard on radio stations throughout New England every weekday. Mr. Tengdin graduated from Dartmouth College, Magna Cum Laude. He received his Master of Arts from Trinity Divinity School, Magna Cum Laude and received his Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation in 1992. Mr. Tengdin has been managing investment portfolios for over 30 years, working for Bank of Boston, State Street Global Advisors, Citibank – Tunisia, and Banknorth Group. Throughout his career, Mr. Tengdin has emphasized helping clients manage their financial risks in difficult environments where they can profit from investing in diverse assets in diverse settings. - Leave a comment if you have any questions—I read them all! - And Follow me on Twitter @GlobalMarketUpd

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