BASIS Independent Brooklyn hosted a panel discussion in mid-January about the crucial role that global benchmarking plays in ensuring that striving students have a skill set that is sufficiently broad, and specifically suited to 21st century technological advances and rapid globalization.

The event – officially entitled “The New American Dream? The lessons of global benchmarking for parents and schools” – included the following panelists:

The panel was moderated by Mark Reford of BASIS Educational Ventures; co-founder Michael Block was also a panel participant.

The panel lasted for a bit more than an hour, and included a Q&A portion from the audience, comprised primarily of parents and teachers from BASIS Independent’s Brooklyn and Manhattan campuses.

Moderator Mark RefordMichael Block and Heli JärvikyläYu Zhang and Tue Halgreen
Photo far left: Mark Reford has three decades of education and education policy experience
Middle photo: Co-founder Michael Block, along with panelist and educator Heli Järvikylä, who hails from Finland and lives in New York City.
Photo far right: Yu Zhang (left) is an NYU grad student affiliated with Shanghai Jiao Tong University; Tue Halgreen (right) is a Senior Policy Analyst at OECD, which administers the PISA exam.

The video of the discussion can be found on YouTube; this link will take you directly to it. Here are some noteworthy portions of the video, if you’d like to skip right to some of the best parts:

  1. 10:45–12:11 — Tue Halgreen of OECD speaking about the PISA test and what it measures.
  2. 13:45–14:14 — Mr. Halgreen on U.S. students’ science performance.
  3. 15:46–16:47 — Mr. Halgreen offering details about top performers in science, and what you can learn from comparing them.
  4. 17:22–19:40 — Dr. Block explaining that BASIS.ed was founded upon the observation that international students were better prepared; OECD and PISA results were therefore used to benchmark what he had observed in classes.
  5. 19:43–20:56 — Mr. Halgreen on the three patterns observed with high-performing school systems worldwide.
  6. 53:04–55:38 — Mr. Halgreen explaining that the most successful schools around the world do not, in fact, follow the progressive fad of student-directed projects and collaborative learning, but focus first on teachers actually teaching students the theory and concepts and core content of traditional academic disciplines, for without that foundation the students cannot grasp the systems with which they are experimenting and how to apply knowledge in the real world.


Learn more about BASIS Independent Brooklyn and Manhattan by visiting