Ed sec praises research

U.S. Secretary of Education Roderick Paige came to Penn Oct. 10 to praise an international education research project and to get a good word in for his boss’s education agenda.

Paige delivered those messages to the international panel of researchers who participated in the Six Nations Education Research Project, a seven-year project led by the Graduate School of Education.

Paige spoke at the closing plenary session of the project’s final conference, “Global Education for the 21st Century,” at the Inn at Penn Oct. 10. The project brought scholars from China, Germany, Japan, Singapore, Switzerland and the United States together to study common educational issues.

Paige said that such comparative studies were useful “in focusing America’s attention, and others’ attention across the world, on performance, and actually figuring out what works and what doesn’t work.”

Some of the project’s findings Paige found particularly interesting. For example, in math and science education, project researchers found an inverse relationship between the percentage of students in a country who said they did well in math or science and overall national performance in those fields. This, he suggested, argues for setting clear, high standards for performance, as is done in the Asian countries.

He also noted project research that showed that vocational and technical education still plays a vital role in preparing the high-tech workforce. But, he said, “the research shows that public opinion has treated technical education harshly, and we must address this issue.”

In describing President George W. Bush’s education agenda, Paige stressed the importance of research in setting it. “President Bush and I are committed to discovering which teaching methods work, and which don’t work, and to promote those that work across the country,” he said.

Then he switched his focus from research results to the other key parts of Bush’s plan, which call for accountability for performance, local control, and expanded parental choice.

The goal, he said, is to make sure every American child learns. “We will not be content with just educating some of the children.

We will not be content with just educating those from the most advantaged backgrounds, or just educating those who are easiest to teach.”

Originally published on October 25, 2001