Education About Asia: Online Archives

National Standards and School Reform in Japan and the United States

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Edited by Gary DeCoker

New York, Teachers College Press, 2002

218 Pages. Paperback.

ISBN: 0-8077-4200-7

Since A Nation at Risk was published in 1983, Japan has become a standard from which to compare education in the U.S. and Japan. Aspects of Japan’s educational system have been brandished as solutions for perceived educational problems in the U.S. Looking at Japan, some have suggested that we increase the number of hours in school or the length of the school day. Others have argued for school uniforms. Yet others promote more standardized testing. When these decisions were made, the context of schooling in Japan might have been mentioned, but in many cases context was disregarded. National Standards and School Reform in Japan and the United States does not provide a list of changes, but focuses on a better understanding of the role of national standards and reforms in curriculum change in Japan. It does not start with the assumption that Japan’s centralized educational system is rigid and monolithic. Rather, the book presents a clear perspective on the shaping of educational policy through interactions between players at many levels of the educational hierarchy. The given in all this is the entrance examinations.