This is a tiny sampler of information sources, some about macro-assessments of educational achievement in the United States and around the world, some about the vast riches of mediated information we are lucky to have for ourselves and our students.
Macro-studies of educational achievement.
These gather large-scale data that provide useful perspectives for each of us and for policy considerations.
For the United States, the major source is the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), conducted by the National Center for Educational Statistics. Data are regularly collected from a large sample of districts, schools, and students. Their publications range widely. Some of their longitudinal comparisons help bring perspective to current discussions about the state of education and how it has changed. For example, achievement in reading is widely believed to have plummeted over the years. Not so, it has hardly changed. The bad news is that large scale efforts to improve reading achievemet have not had much effect. You may want to start with the national center webpage
or you may find it interesting to access the relatively brief report, “The Nation’s Report Card” at
For international comparisons, begin with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) is of particular interest, comparing student achievement across 65 couuntries, most recently in 2012 in mathematics.
However, OECD has heaps of information about economic conditions across the countries and focusses on issues including gender equality and others that may be of interest to you.
Macro-Sources of information and materials for teaching.
All the national organizations provide support and materials, and there are a few public domain sources that almost everyone will find useful at some time or another.
The Library of Congress is just amazing. From a library to support the informational needs of legislators, it has expanded unbelieveably and the digital age has increased its reach. Here we will provide just one of its links – that for the photography section in which more than a million photographs have been digitized. Whether you are studying the movement West in the last half of the 1800’s or the progression of life in the cities or … the possibilities are endless. Mostly public domain material.
The National Museum of the American Indian is a little-known and underused branch of the Smithsonian. The collection is a treasure-trove of original materials.
Since 1888 the non-profit National Geographic Association has accumulated and distributed information about anthropology and the natural sciences and has kept up with the times. The materials presented on its website and television channel can fill your whiteboard as the students arrive, during breaks, and at the end of the day – constituting a major dimension of liberating education.
The museums of the arts have digitized themselves remarkably. If you can’t visit one, it will come to you. We will provide only one link here, but the others lie in wait.
The Smithsonian continues to expand and refine its presentations. There is nothing better for space exploration which will delight and inform your students, but that is just the beginning.
And, speaking of space, why not visit the NASA center itself?
No doubt you have watched the Discovery Channel many times, but we would be remiss if we did not mention its marvelous collection of documentaries.
The Public Broadcasting System (PBS) is more than a great news medium. Among other things, it produces some fine educational materials. Take a look at
Encyclopedia Britannica has blossomed into a massive resource for teachers and children. Should be available to every computer and interactive whiteboard in the school.
WikiPedia is a free user-maintained online encyclopedia. Content is loosely moderated and everyone is encouraged to contribute.
Browse and rejoice!