U.S. students’ international test scores stagnate as other countries excel

By Daniel S Levine,

The results from a well-respected international test taken by 15-year-old students around the globe last year have been released and they do not look good for U.S. students. The test, which covers math, science and reading, shows that U.S. students have stagnated, as other students, particularly those from Asian states and provinces, have moved far ahead.

Data from the 2012 Program for International Student Assessment (or PISA) shows that U.S. teens did do well in reading, but average in science and below average in math, reports The Washington Post. The test was taken in 64 countries and economies last fall and has been performed every year since 2000. Since then, U.S. scores have stayed relatively the same.

“Our scores are stagnant. We’re not seeing any improvement for our 15-year-olds,” Jack Buckley, commissioner at the National Center for Education Statistics, told the Post. “But our ranking is flipping because a lot of these other countries are improving.” The National Center for Education Statistics is part of the U.S. Department of Education.

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said in a statement that these results show that test-based programs like No Child Left Behind are not working as well as hoped. The group even released a video asking people not to put the blame on teachers or unions.

The results were also not impressive for the U.K., although students there did do better than in the U.S. U.K. students were ranked No. 26 overall, compared to No. 36 for the U.S. Still, England’s Education Secretary Michael Gove showed concern, noting that their scores have stagnated as well, reports the BBC. He told members of Parliament that the U.K. must put in reforms to keep from falling behind countries like Poland, Germany and Vietnam.

In math, the U.S. ranked No. 28, with Shanghai taking the top spot. The U.S. was ranked No. 22 in science and No. 19 in reading.

The No. 1 ranked economy overall was Shanghai. China didn’t participate as a country, with both Shanghai and Hong Kong participating individually. Hong Kong ranked No. 3 overall, with Singapore in between.


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