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World Leaders Discuss Education

It was a week for discussing education around the globe. In Slovenia, President Bush and leaders of the European Union signed a declaration June 10 at the U.S.-E.U. summit that promises support for improving education in developing countries, through a “holistic approach” that addresses “the global shortfall of effective teachers through support for teacher training, recruitment, retention, and capacity development.”

In Lima, Peru, Sec. Margaret Spellings attended the 4th Education Ministerial Meeting at APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation), where leaders from 21 countries agreed on similar goals. The delegates also suggested that learning should go beyond knowledge acquisition to the development of “critical thinking and communication skills.

“Economies that score high in reasoning also score high in facts and procedures and the inverse is also true,” an APEC statement says. “Students need to develop both foundational and higher-order skills.”

Students should be able to use those skills, the statement goes on, to tackle issues beyond math and science and language learning, such as “global warming, historical events, or political issues.”

Math and science were expected to be key topics at the summit.

Last I spoke with the folks at Achieve, they were in the midst of analyzing math and science standards from APEC countries under a grant from the Ed Dept. Matt Gandal told me he was anticipating a discussion of how expectations compare across countries, which could help inform a conversation about standards and practices in U.S. schools and how they might be improved.

Ed Week has delved into these areas recently, here.

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