I just want to discuss one thing here. You said, “ Yet, we do not achieve commensurate results; on the contrary, educational outcomes in the USA are unfavorable in comparison with high-test, high-stakes countries (Korea)”
I grew up in Korea, and I am not going back to Korea mostly because I don’t want my kids go to Korean schools.
That “high-test, high-stakes” with less financial support makes Korean kids miserable. The suicide rate of children is very high in Korea, and it's mostly from the academic pressure. Kids spend too much time studying, and the lack of funding in public education, although not the sole cause, creates the huge monstrous private education market (cram schools). Kids go to school at 7 AM, and after school they go to cram schools(yes, multiple), and come home at midnight. So they study 15–18 hours a day.
Korean kids may have higher test scores in average, but students spend too much time in studying, which is not good for healthy development, body and mind. The academic progress per hour is very slow. Lessons are ineffective. In short, Korean education is a totally inefficient system, and the lack of funding contributes to this malfunction.
Koreans do not think the schools provide quality education. Ask any Korean. They hate Korean education system. Rich Koreans send kids to America or at least international schools.
Yes, we can spend less money, enforce more standardized test, force kids to study long hours, and then we may have higher average test scores. But it will limit the opportunities to nurture students’ creativity and analytical skills. And surely they are not going to be well-rounded, happy people.