US international schools overseas and the Common Core

Julia Mahfouz, Erica Sausner, Mindy Kornhaber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


This qualitative study of U.S. international schools overseas explores the implementation of the Common Core State Standards in six U.S. international schools overseas (The Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Kuwait). The Common Core was introduced in 2009 in the U.S. as a national (not federal) ‘standards-based reform’. Such reforms are intended to align components of the education system, including curriculum, instruction, assessment, professional development and other resources. Proponents of this national policy reform argued that common standards would improve efficiency within public education, equalise opportunities across disparate states and school districts, and allow all students to graduate without any need for remedial education in postsecondary training or college. In international settings, the reform was implemented for reasons that differ from the reform’s purpose in the U.S. We found that the leaders of these international schools held that implementation of the Common Core supported the building of U.S. culture within their institutions and supported students’ transitions between international and U.S. schools. Global education reform and theories regarding the paradigm of standardisation guide analysis of a highly contested U.S. reform undertaken in international schools in distinct nations. This serves as a contrasting case of global policy adoption where out-of-context policies are poorly adapted; instead, with substantial human and economic capital supporting this reform, there is evidence of the Common Core’s success abroad as it flounders where it was launched.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)406-420
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Leadership in Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 4 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Strategy and Management


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