Saturday, September 10, 2011

Articles: The Continuing Disgrace of U.S. Education

September 10, 2011

The Continuing Disgrace of U.S. Education

By Gary Jason

If Americans dared to hope that their K-12 educational system might be improving, several new articles will bring the poor souls back to reality.

The first is a piece by Paul Peterson of the Harvard Program on Educational Policy and Governance. Peterson notes that on the most recent national test results, only a risible 32% of American 8th-graders scored "proficient" in math. By coincidence, on the international PISA tests, taken by students from 65 countries and administered by the OECD, our students' scores are at 32nd place.

How do the other developed nations stack up? In six countries (Canada, Finland, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, and Switzerland), at least 50% of the 8th-graders score proficient in math. Many other nations which don't score that high still outscore us, including Germany (45%), Australia (44%), and France (39%).

Most worrisome is the fact that 75% of Shanghai students scored proficient in math. As we compete with China for high-tech industry, the ability of its educational system to teach Chinese kids math will give the country an ever-increasing competitive edge, unless ours closes the gap.

Within our country, there are wide discrepancies in math proficiency. Massachusetts has the high average of 51%, with only five other states scoring above 40%. (These are Kansas, Minnesota, New Jersey, North Dakota, and Vermont).

Depressingly, some of the richest states score lowest in math proficiency, with New York at 30%, Michigan at 29%, Florida at 27%, and my home state of California at a pathetic 24%.

Articles: The Continuing Disgrace of U.S. Education