- U.S. students rate poorly compared with those in the rest of the world. In six major international tests in reading, math, science, and civics conducted from 1991-2001 American students' performances were above average when compared with 22 other industrialized nations.
- American students continue to fall even futher behind. No other nation educates as many poor students or as ethnically diverse a population as does the United States; as the percentage of historically low-achieving students tested has increased, so have American test scores.
- U.S. students won't be well prepared for the modern workforce. In the 50's and 60's the same thing was said in comparison to the Soviet Union; in the 70's and 80's it was Japan. Today it is China and India.
- Bad schooling has undermined America's competitiveness. A dynamic economy is part of a culture that rewards innovation and risk-taking and values unconventional problem-solving. When asked why Singapore's education system produced so many top-ranked test takers but so few top-ranked scientists, inventors, and business executives, the Education Minister said, "We both have meritocracies. America's is a talent meritocracy, ours is an exam meritocracy."
- How we rate in international tests matters, if only for national pride. If being No. 1 in education is our goal, shouldn't we also want to be No. 1 in the factors most closely linked to academic achievement - children's health care and reduction of childhood poverty?
Saturday, February 17, 2007
U.S. Students - Are They All That Bad?
A few weeks ago Paul Fahri of the Washington Post wrote a column about how U.S. students compare with students from around the world. In this column he described as mythical 5 commonly articulated statements about the performance of American students, and offered supporting documentation for his suggestion that these statements are mythical. I won't reproduce his entire column here, but I will list the five statements that he says are not exactly true...