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Education Policy and Social Analysis
Teachers College, Columbia University
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Education Policy and Social Analysis

Faculty in the News > Henry Levin in PROSPECTS, August 30, 2012

Henry Levin in PROSPECTS, August 30, 2012


What is, in fact, world-class education?
In an article in UNESCO's Prospects magazine, Henry Levin writes that restricting the meaning of "world-class" education to the narrow criterion of test scores relies on the idea that higher scores are closely linked with a capable labor force and competitive economy. In fact, Levin argues, the measured relationships between test scores and earnings or productivity are modest and explain a relatively small share of the larger link between educational attainment and economic outcomes. Missing from these assessments are the effects that education has on the development of interpersonal and intrapersonal skills and capabilities -- non-cognitive skills -- that affect the quality and productivity of the labor force. Levin recommends that non-cognitive-skill areas and measures be incorporated into research on academic achievement, school graduation, post-secondary attainments, labor market outcomes, health status, and reduced involvement in the criminal justice system in conjunction with standard academic performance measures. At some point we will learn enough to incorporate specific non-cognitive measures into both small- and large-scale assessments, leading to a deeper understanding of school effects and school policy and a more inclusive framework for ascertaining what is, in fact, world-class education.
See the report:  "What is, in fact, world-class, education?, PPRSPECTS, UNESCO's Journal of Education Policies and Practices, August 30, 2012.