Juxtaposition of the week. From Time magazine:
The rise of China as an economic and political juggernaut has become a familiar refrain, but now there's another area in which the Chinese are suddenly emerging as a world power: education.
In the latest Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) comparative survey of the academic performance of 15-year-olds around the world — an authoritative study released every three years — Chinese teenagers from Shanghai far outscored their international peers in all three subject matters that were tested last year: reading, math and science.
[. . .]
Some nations that have put in place school reforms in the past decade, including Germany and Poland, did show improvement in the survey. But the U.S. and France, among others, had at best mediocre results that were lower than their reading scores in 2000, the first year of the PISA survey.
And from Chicago's WGN:
West suburban Indian Prairie District 204 has become the latest in the Chicago area to eliminate high school class ranks.
The District 204 school board on Monday voted unanimously and without discussion to eliminate traditional valedictorian and salutatorian honors at each of the district's three high schools.
Instead, new honor designations will salute groups of top academic performers beginning with the 2011-12 school year.
"It's not perfect, it'll never be perfectly just," said board member Mark Metzger. "But it's a heck of a lot more just than what we have (now)."