American Education System Hindered By High Social Stress, Study Says

Despite a middling reputation among developed nations for America’s public school system, its universities take an impressive 10 of the top 15 slots of QSWorld’s Best Universities ranking, rounding out the number one slot with MIT. Still, America’s public education system has a lot to learn from the world’s other most developed studies, according to a study by public education group Horace Mann League.

The study looked at six separate issues — student outcomes, school system outcomes, social stress, support for families, support for schools, and economic inequity — in order to assess the quality of each country’s education system. Their findings indicate that while American adults are highly educated overall, students waging their way through America’s education system also suffer from the greatest amounts of stress. Gary Marx, president of the Horace Mann League, said in a press release that high levels of stress are partially due to the violent nature of American culture.

“With respect to social stress, the indicators suggest the U.S. has the highest rates of deaths from violence and substance abuse, and that American society is 13 to 16 times more violence-prone than other nations in this study.”

The United States’ education data was placed alongside the other G7 nations — Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the U.K. — as well as China and Finland. While the American education systems seems to do comparatively well in terms of achievement, it performs among the worst in terms of economic equality, social stress, and support for families. These factors may have a long-term effect on brain development, according to the study.

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Jim Harvey, executive director of the National Superintendents Roundtable, sat down with the Huffington Post to offer a three-step assessment of what he thinks the American education system should focus its attention on based on the the new information.

“First, we should stop judging national school performance here or anywhere else on the basis of a single test score… The second is we need multiple measures for what’s going on in complex societies to understand what’s going on in our schools… The third finding is, here we are, one of the wealthiest nations in the world, and we have a shocking rate of relative poverty for children… The existence of those levels of child poverty in the midst of plenty is really something to embarrass our country.”

What changes do you think should be made to the American education system?

[Image via Sara V., Flickr]