Journal of Educational Change

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 115–119 | Cite as

Remembering ingenuity creativity and democratic participation in American school reform

Yong Zhao: Catching up or leading the way: American education in the age of globalization, ASCD, Alexandria, VA, 2009, 229 pp, ISBN: 978-1-4166-0873-8
  • Michelle RenéeEmail author
Book Review

In Catching Up or Leading the Way: American Education in the Age of Globalization, Yong Zhao (2010) challenges researchers, policymakers, and other stakeholders to reexamine the goals of the American education system in the twenty-first century. He does this by articulating a paradox of the current system: While American students score low on both national and international tests, America still dominates the global economy. Arguing that America’s dominance comes from the independence, ingenuity, and creativity instilled in its students Zhao asserts that the measures of learning currently employed in national and international tests in the US are dangerously focused on a limited range of knowledge and skills. He uses the Chinese educational system as a point of comparison to highlight the extreme measures Chinese students and parents take in order increase test scores. Zhao further explains, with irony, that as America is trying to standardize its curriculum and increase the use of...


  1. American Educational Research Association. (2000). AERA position statement on high-stakes testing in pre-K-12 education. Retrieved from
  2. Coalition for Excellent Public Schools. (2010). Our communities left behind: An analysis of the administration’s school turnaround policies. Retrieved from
  3. Darling-Hammond, L. (2010). The flat world and education: How America’s commitment to equity will determine our future. New York: Teachers College Press.Google Scholar
  4. Lucas, S. (1999). Tracking inequality. New York: Teachers College Press.Google Scholar
  5. Oakes, J. (2005). Keeping track: How schools structure inequality (2nd ed.). New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Schott Foundation for Public Education. (2010). National opportunity to learn campaign. Retrieved from
  7. Smith, M., & O’Day, J. (1990). Systemic school reform. Journal of Education Policy, 5(5), 233–267.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. US Department of Education. (2010). A blueprint for reform: The reauthorization of the elementary and secondary education Act. Washington, DC: Author. Retrieved from

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Annenberg Institute for School ReformBrown UniversityProvidenceUSA

Personalised recommendations