WASHINGTON, D.C. - The superintendent of the Crawford Central School District is among a group of educators on a panel in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday. The group that invited those educators are proposing sweeping changes of the American public education system.

Thomas Washington joined officials from the National Center on Education and the Economy announced their findings following more than three decades of research into the American public education system, and examining why the U.S. is falling behind other nations. The report produced by the NCEE calls for a major reform of the American education system.

“The average American student leaves high school two-and-a-half years behind the average student who leaves high school in top-performing countries,” said Marc Tucker, author of the report and NCEE President and CEO Emeritus and Distinguished Fellow.

The reform would start from the top down by resetting standards through what author Tucker calls the nine “building blocks” aimed at boosting grades, graduating more students, and ultimately making America competitive on the global stage.

The research spanning more than 30 years, also found high-performing nations allowed more-experienced teachers to work directly with new, inexperienced teachers, from developing lesson plans, to specialized teaching styles. That last component is what attracted Washington to the program about two years ago.

“The big goal in my mind is that if you can impact teaching, you can impact learning,” said Washington, who told Erie News Now he was first approached about the program by Pennsylvania Education Sec. Pedro Rivera.

Washington is among the first superintendents in the country to receive training in these areas. Pennsylvania, which is home to 500 school districts altogether, is the first state Tucker targeted to roll out his initiative. They are also working with Maryland lawmakers to develop a set of policy guidelines.

“Our hope is that we can put this together so that we will have states that are both changing the policy environment and, at the same time, training professional educators to actually do it,” Tucker said.

The U.S. ranks 31st in the world in combined math, reading and science test scores, according to the most recent numbers from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Closer to home, Pennsylvania’s education system is ranked 38thout of 50 states, according to a 2018 analysis from U.S. News and World Report.

The NCEE analysis comes with some sweeping recommendations, proposals that Washington hopes could start in Northwest Pennsylvania.

“If you can support teachers and help them grow, that can have a systemic impact,” Washington said.