If you can't beat 'em, stop comparing yourselves to 'em. This is a favorite motto among Bill Bennett used to call the "Blob"--that established body of educrats that runs our government schools.
The latest example of this is the now not so quiet act by the United States to drop out of an international study that compares the math and science skills of students in different countries. Called TIMSS (Trends in Mathematics and Science Study) Advanced 2008, the study has increasingly shown the sorry state of math and science education in this country, according to Newsweek magazine.
The interesting thing is that this strategy will probably work--if, by "working", we mean that it will make us look better. Kentucky did this in the 1990's when, under the Kentucky Education Reform Act of 1990 (KERA), it stopped using standardized tests to measure student achievement and began using its own test, called the KIRIS test (now titled "CATS")--a test that measured Kentucky students, not against students in other states, but only against themselves. This resulted in the appearance of progress among Kentucky students when the data gathered from tests many students still took told a different story.
Now the U. S. will not have to answer questions about those embarrassing results showing us scoring lower than every country except for Cyprus and South Africa.
And they wonder why home schooling is becoming so popular.