Tuesday, March 24, 2009

When 2 + 2 = Huh?

A reader asks:

Where is the data for US math and science ed in comparison to the rest of the world?

There are a couple different good sources. First is the 2007 study from the National Center for Education Statistics. As of that data, US fourth-graders rank 11th behind Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Japan, Kazakhstan, Russia, England, Latvia, and the Netherlands. By eighth grade, according to their data, US students moved up to ninth-place behind Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, Hungary, England, and Russia.

And the strongest individual US state was Massachusetts.

As far as high school stats go, a comparative study was published in 2003 by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. US tenth-graders were ranked 28th out of 39 countries.

In a major 2006 study arranged by the Program for International Student Assessment, Finland took top honors both in math and science. As for US students?

In math, only four countries had average scores lower than the United States. Students in 23 countries had a higher average score, and those in two countries did about the same as the Americans.

While there are myriad reasons for the disparity in math scores among students, a key similarity between math heavy-hitters Finland and South Korea is that both societies are heavily invested in 21st century access and connectivity and the understanding and responsibility that comes with the new connectivity.

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