The Global Achievement Gap

by Tony Wagner

The Global Achievement Gap has been cited at many of our Great Expectations trainings since its release in 2008.  The author, Tony Wagner, has over 20 years of experience teaching, researching and being in the classroom.  He asserts that US schools are failing our students.  It is his observation that our schools drill on facts and basic skills and seldom encourage or even tolerate questioning, innovation, exploration or collaboration. 

According to Wagner, our current teaching practices fail to engage and motivate students.  He claims that our schools offer students little of what engages them.  Instead of group activity, they get one-way lectures and individual worksheets.  Instead of open-ended exploration, they get drills and tests.  Instead of rich interactive, multimedia information, they get dry textbooks.  School does not engage them and they correctly perceive a lack of relevance to their current and future lives he asserts.

While much of the focus of this book is about secondary schools, the message applies to all levels of education.   The author shares the story of three schools that, in his opinion, are effectively reaching today’s high school students.  Each of the three schools approaches learning and assessment, student motivation, school accountability and teacher development in unique ways.  Wagner concludes his book by challenging us with several high level questions as well as a call to action.  The Global Achievement Gap is both thought provoking and informative.

It is interesting to read this book through the lens of GE’s 17 practices, six basic tenets and eight expectations.  The professional growth offered each summer at Great Expectations Institutes provides ways for each of us to improve our instructional practices.  Student engagement, critical thinking skills, collaboration in the classroom, lessons related to the real world, effective communication skills, and  other GE practices address many of the issues discussed in this book. 

To hear Tony Wagner on video, go to YouTube and type in Tony Wagner.  A number of his presentations are readily available.

Buy it on Amazon – The Global Achievement Gap: Why Even Our Best Schools Don’t Teach the New Survival Skills Our Children Need–And What We Can Do About It