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The 2007 Brown Center Report on American Education: How Well Are American Students Learning?


"...The puzzle that is featured in the third section involves previous research on time and learning. When researchers have attempted to find a correlation between national test scores in mathematics and the amount of time different nations devote to teaching mathematics, no relationship has been found. Very odd. The correlation of homework and national test scores is stranger yet, with a negative relationship being the usual finding--the more homework given in math, the lower a nation's test score. We analyze these relationships using a different approach and come up with different findings.

Increasingly, education's most important questions are researched, debated, and decided with data. This is surely a healthy development as the field moves towardembracing the scientific methods that have benefited the intellectual disciplines that inform public policy. That said, with an election year now looming, it is important to be on the lookout for oversimplifications of either education's most pressing problems or its most promising solutions. Simply marshalling good statistics is not enough. The educational enterprise is exceedingly complex, and many cross-currents exist in educational data--evidence supporting one hypothesis, when looked at from another angle, might be seen as supporting an alternative. Even with sound data, many mysteries remain in American education. This issue of the Brown Center Report explores three of them."