Differing Global Education Practices Lead to Student’s Reflection on US Schools

As a country as powerful as the United States drops in the worldwide educational rankings, people begin to wonder what makes the American school system and education different from European schools.

Over the summer I was able to travel to Europe, talk with students who have experienced both American and European school systems and find out the advantages and disadvantages of European schools compared to those in the United States.

According to a study done by the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) in 2012, the United States ranked 27th in mathematics, 17th in reading and 20th in science (rankings have fallen since earlier PISA reports). The fact that the U.S., a country that focuses on good education, continues falling is very upsetting to students, parents and teachers.

One of the students I was able to talk to was Rene Kern, a German high school student who attended school in Detroit for a year. Kern explained that one advantage of European schools is that “German schools are much more challenging a�� [they] have schedules that are very difficult, but help give [students] the best education.”

Many European countries use a three-tier school system that contains a different high school for each level of education. Students are classified into one of the three levels based on their grades and testing scores up until high school. This is very similar to the separation between on-level, honors and AP/IB in American schools.

However, this is a disadvantage to a majority of the students that are not able to make it into the highest level. Not being in the highest level makes it difficult to get into colleges and later land high-paying jobs.

“Students in the lower levels of high school are often less motivated by their classification and because of this, the kids have very bad grades,” junior Valentin Milloch said. Milloch attended high school in France before coming to RHS last year.

English teacher William Jameson was able to start his teaching career in Cyprus, Greece. “We used more progress reports and parent-teacher meetings to make sure students and their parents knew what they could improve on,” Jameson said. If this same attitude and care was given by students and parents in America, grades would be significantly better and could potentially increase our global rank.

United States and Europe both have their advantages and disadvantages in education. In the United States, everyone has a chance to succeed and get into college. The European system pushes strict education from the start, however those who do not succeed seem to feel less important and cannot get the same opportunities as those who are placed at the highest level of high school.