The Public Interest

American Education: The Record is Mixed

Barbara Lerner & Richard M. Wolf

Summer 1983

BARBARA LERNERS article in The Public Interest (“American Education: How Are We Doing?,” Fall 1982) attempts to answer a number of questions that would enable one to assess American education. Clearly, this was an ambitious undertaking. One of the central questions in Lerner’s article was, “What are the cognitive achievement levels of our students in comparison to those of their foreign peers...?” In attempting to answer this question, Lerner drew heavily on my book, Achievement in America, and books by my co-workers in the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA). Unfortunately, her article contains a number of factual inaccuracies and elementary errors of interpretation that cast doubt on her conclusions. This article is intended to set the record straight and to raise several issues that Lerner neglected to consider.

Download a PDF of the full article.


to your National Affairs subscriber account.

Already a subscriber? Activate your account.


Unlimited access to intelligent essays on the nation’s affairs.

Subscribe to National Affairs.