It’s interesting to think about this, although I don’t agree with everything in this article. Having attended primary and secondary schooling in Asia, I do believe it when they say the average Asian student is a couple of years ahead of the average US student in science and math. However, we (Asian students) fall behind in creativity, writing, and social skills, which are equally important to economic development.
These differences are most likely due to greater flexibility in US schooling, not just lower standards. Asian students are held to a somewhat high, but highly standardized bar. While the bar forces weak students to work harder, it does not reward great students from pushing even higher and becoming Bill Gates or Zuckerberg. So if Asian educational policy raises average quality somewhat, there is a chance that it does so by sacrificing the “wingers”, i.e. kids whose brilliance exceeds the limits of normal education programs.