The U.S. education system should allow every student to reach his or her own potential, an international education leader said last week in Washington. It should not propel every student on the same track hoping to “equalize” society, she argued.

Montserrat Gomendio, deputy director of the directorate for education and skills at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, went on to tell a room full of education journalists that for the U.S. to become competitive on international tests with countries such as Finland and China, it must focus on teacher recruitment and training in new ways.

The OECD administers the internationally benchmarked Programme for International Student Assessment every three years. Leaders and journalists around the globe dissect the results and often rank countries on the education prowess of 15-year-olds.

Gomendio was clear: The U.S. education system isn’t failing as some suggest. Students here usually come in at the middle of the international pack.

In a brief interview after her remarks at the event sponsored by the Education Writers Association, Gomendio shared a few tips on what the U.S. education system could learn from its own sets of reforms and from other high-performing countries.