Schools in america are terrible all the classes are boring and there is no drive "I know i am a senior in high school". I have seen the japan school system and it seems like it is more effective and efficient. Just look at there scores having to study to get into a good school is a great drive instead of just being placed into a grade with people that are the same age as you. The fact of the matter is that a person that is struggling at a subject should not be punished for not being good at it they should have it easier so they can improve and not struggle with that subject also if the student is good at a subject they should be challenged to do more.
Testing is very important as we must know who must work the local McDonalds and who must not. I also find it very fun to test and do not think it should be feared. Putting everyone in the same group based on age is bad as smart and dumb people are not friends.
The Finnish model utilizes much less testing and puts everyone of same age together, regardless of ability to help other students (all in this together model). In the Asian model, there is much more testing, students must test to enter high school (students work hard to get into school they want) and continue to test throughout. While both would work, I believe it would be easier and less of a challenge from politicians and teacher unions alike to implement the Asian model.
Too many of East Asia's schools in places like China, Mongolia, Korea, Japan etc, they're all not so great. They might seem like they have a good model looking at their high scores, but the thing is that their education system is too memory based. USA might seem bad compared to other countries, but our education focuses more on critical thinking and creativity, it's not as memory-based. Western schools also leave out enough spare time to sign up for after-school activities, it would be harder to do that in places like Korea or Japan. The USA is also a lot larger and more diverse, so it would be harder to control the entire national education.
I don't know about Japanese education so I won't comment on that. To talk about Korean education, which is primarily consisted of private education that is greatly influenced by student's household income, Hell, NO.
We need less emphasis on sports (but not as little as in Korea where the PE almost non-existent). Schools should remember that they should be looking for scholars and organizers, not a pack leader.