Report: U.S. Again Lags Behind In Math And Science Scores

220px-ClassroomAs we continue to gush billions of dollars for Afghanistan and Iraq as well as giving $100 million buildings to Israel, our school system continues to decline and our student school continue to rank below a long list of other countries. The most recent reports of fourth and eighth graders shows the United States lagging behind Asian and European countries in math and science. Nevertheless, we will continue to give billions to wealthy countries like Israel with better schools and increasingly hostile countries like Pakistan and Egypt. The real threat to this country is the collapsing educational system and erosion of our competitive labor force.

The two new reports, the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study and the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study, show South Korea and Singapore leading in science in the fourth grade and Singapore and Taiwan leading in the eighth grade. The U.S. ranked 11th in fourth-grade math and 9th in eighth grade math. We ranked 7th in fourth grade science and 10th in eighth-grade science.

I am less worried about the ranking as I am with the fact that only 7 percent of students reached the advanced level in eighth-grade math compared to 48 percent of eighth graders in Singapore and 47 percent of eighth graders in South Korea.

I have been admittedly harping on this issue for years. I fail to understand how our leaders can get away with the lack of priority shown toward education which plays directly into our competitiveness in the world market.

Source: New York Times

119 thoughts on “Report: U.S. Again Lags Behind In Math And Science Scores”

  1. The real problem is grade inflation. That and the fluff curriculum offered in American public schools. My daughter attends a public school in Germany. Here is her course load for the 10th grade: German, English (8th year), Latin (4th year), Politics/Economics, History, Religion/Ethics, P.E., Math, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Music Theory. School choir is an extra-curricular activity, as is drama club. No “Health”, or “Sex Ed”, those subjects are covered in Bio. Also, no “Language Arts”. American parents: what are you getting for your tax dollars?????

  2. New York Standardized Testing Protest Brings Parents, Students To Pearson’s Steps
    By Alex Kuczynski-Brown
    Posted: 06/07/2012

    At Thursday’s protest, Lisa Edstrom, representing Parent Voices New York, gave an impassioned speech lamenting the role that high-stakes tests now play in children’s classrooms.

    “As an educator with 20 years’ experience, I’ve seen what good schools look like. But what I’ve seen as a parent in these last couple of years makes me angry,” she said into a microphone, with the crowd repeating her every line. “High-stakes tests drive our curriculum. I’m all for good assessments, but these tests do not give us useful information about our children. These tests are being used to evaluate teachers and schools. And the pressure is on our children to perform, and on our teachers to get them to perform.”

    Michele Israel told HuffPost that parents at her fourth-grade son Aidan’s school, P.S. 107 in Brooklyn, opted their children out of the first round of field tests administered a few weeks ago.

    Like many other parents at the protest, Israel expressed frustration that schools now tended to “teach towards the tests” and that admission to particular middle schools can hinge heavily on standardized test scores.

    Kevin Jacobs, also a parent from P.S. 107, said he has been active in the movement against the growing number and importance of standardized tests.

    “I think part of what we’re trying to do is both activate more parents and get them involved and get them to believe,” Jacobs said. “We’ve had 12 years where parents have pretty much been excluded from the process of making decisions in public education, and I think that’s been the outcome of mayoral control.”

    He also said testing protesters had “met with as many state senators and assembly members as we could get meetings with in the last few months.”

    On Thursday, Jacobs was accompanied by his six-year-old son, who is in first grade and thus has not yet been subject to standardized testing. But Jacobs isn’t sure that grace period will last.

    “It’s possible that in a few years from now they could be doing tests certainly of kindergarten and even preschool, if you look at some of the other states and how they’re using standardized tests,” he said. “I find that ludicrous, first of all, and also scary.”

  3. “High-Stakes Testing is Out of Control” UPDATE!
    By Diane Ravitch
    October 4, 2012

    Peter DeWitt, principal of an elementary school in upstate New York, surveys the landscape and sees an educational system that is crushing principals, teachers and children with unreasonable mandates.

    At the center of the mandates is the endless demands for test scores. Higher and higher…or die.

    Complaints are rising. They are coming from all directions. The current course of “reform” is not sustainable when the object of the reforms reacts with sullen and suppressed rage. There is no joy in this Mudville.

    Peter concludes:

    “High stakes testing has gotten out of control. Policymakers, state and federal education departments aren’t on the sidelines. They are making decisions from remote locations. These decisions are coming from people who care more about money and shame than they care about children. Unfortunately, children are the collateral damage in this new test-taking era.

    “Education should be about learning, educational resources and building relationships with students and families. It should not be about testing. So many stakeholders do not understand the amount of money that is given privately to companies creating high stakes tests. They hear about money coming from the lottery or from Race to the Top and truly believe that each school district shares in that pot when that is just not true. It takes millions of dollars to pay for tests made by companies and that money could be better invested where it is needed most, which is in our students.

    “It’s time for policymakers, politicians and state education departments to wake up and see that the complaints about high stakes testing is not part of an implementation dip, it’s just bad practice. Many states have been giving high stakes testing for almost fifteen years and it has done little to help public education. To keep moving forward with so much collateral damage is educational malpractice on the part of those in charge.

  4. Parents protest surge in standardized testing
    By Stephanie Simon
    Tue Jun 12, 2012

    (Reuters) – A backlash against high-stakes standardized testing is sweeping through U.S. school districts as parents, teachers, and administrators protest that the exams are unfair, unreliable and unnecessarily punitive – and even some longtime advocates of testing call for changes.

    The objections come even as federal and state authorities pour hundreds of millions of dollars into developing new tests, including some for children as young as 5.

    In a growing number of states, scores on standardized tests weigh heavily in determining whether an 8-year-old advances to the next grade with her classmates; whether a teen can get his high school diploma; which teachers keep their jobs; how much those teachers are paid; and even which public schools are shut down or turned over to private management.

    Parents frustrated by the system say they’re not against all standardized tests but resent the many hours their kids spend filling in multiple-choice bubbles and the wide-ranging consequence that poor scores carry. They say the testing regime piles stress on children and wastes classroom time. In elementary schools, they protest that a laser focus on the subjects tested, mostly math and reading, crowds out science, social studies and the arts. In high schools, they’re fighting standardized exams that can determine a student’s course grade in subjects from geometry to world history.

    “I see frustration and bitterness among parents growing by leaps and bounds,” said Leonie Haimson, a mother who runs Class Size Matters, an advocacy group in New York City that pushes for reduced testing and smaller class sizes. “What parents are saying is, ‘Enough is enough.'”


    More than 500 school boards in Texas have passed resolutions demanding a reduced focus on high-stakes standardized tests. So have several big school districts in Florida, including Broward County, the sixth-largest district in the United States. Parents in northwest Washington state organized a boycott this spring and kept hundreds of children out of state exams.

    And in New York City last week, several hundred parents and children rallied outside the offices of Pearson Education, a division of Pearson Plc, the nation’s largest testing company. To the jaunty accompaniment of a marching band, the protesters chanted, “More teaching, less testing” and “One, two, three, four … Kids are not a test score.”


    The tests have spawned a cumbersome bureaucracy, however.

    In Texas, district administrators study a 156-page manual, plus a 47-page security supplement, to prepare for a testing season that runs from October through July. Test coordinators, often guidance counselors, spend days before each major testing period sorting supplies and scheduling individual proctors for special-needs students.

    On big test days, John Kuhn, the superintendent of a small school district in north Texas, runs through so many proctors he has to hire substitute teachers to guard each school’s bathrooms. That’s a security requirement: A monitor must watch the bathroom door to make sure kids go in one at a time, lest they compare answers.

    Security “has crossed over into ludicrous, in my opinion,” Kuhn said. “It drives me bonkers.”

    Standardized testing used to be about understanding and addressing students’ needs, he said. Now it’s become a quick way to judge kids, teachers and entire districts, Kuhn said. “It’s no longer really diagnostic. It’s punitive,” he said. “That’s all it is.”

    Even some advocates of testing are beginning to publicly complain about the system.

    Many state assessments are given in March or April, so they capture only what a student has learned in the first two-thirds of the school year. The results often don’t come back until the summer, too late for teachers to use the scores to guide their approach in the classroom.

    “They’re not useful,” said Paul Vallas, a veteran superintendent who has helped turn around districts in Chicago, Philadelphia and New Orleans and is now running the schools in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

  5. Could millions going to high-stakes testing be better spent?
    By Linda Campbell
    Posted Wednesday, Dec. 05, 2012

    But when a Pearson vice president, Steve Ferrara, wrote on the company’s “fwd” blog that testing accounts for “a minuscule percentage of education spending,” he got plenty of comments begging to differ — mostly for his laughable estimate that “students in grades 3-8 spend about ten hours on end of year tests … about a day and a half of school per year.” (

    “Only someone who has never spent time in a classroom would make this claim. The average school spends two weeks on the state’s standardized tests — because if you know anything about children, it’s that their natural inclination is not to sit perfectly quietly and fill in bubbles for six hours straight. … There is not one piece of research that shows that more testing will lead to higher achievement, nor that threatening schools and teachers with high populations of poor, minority, ELL, and special needs kids that if they don’t magically raise test scores they will be punished/fired.”

    “While the actual tests are ten hours (which by the way, is ridiculously too long for a third grader), the amount of preparation that goes into getting ready for the tests takes away from lessons that should focus on critical thinking. … Standardized tests not only take money away from student learning; they fuel anxiety. This money should be in the schools, allowing students to be in classrooms with greater academic support, smaller class sizes, more resources available. Corporations should not be making money at the expense of children.”

    “Any teacher can tell you that standardized tests kill joy, creativity, and individuality, all of which are needed for genuine learning to take place.”

    “Parents don’t want the kind of ‘good instruction’ test prep, high stakes testing ‘offers.’ We want our children to: learn to read, then read to learn, then love to learn, then become good, adequately prepared citizens of the world. We want our children to: have recess, art, music, AP courses, internships, sports teams, proms, trips to colleges and wrap around services.”

  6. Experience shows high-stakes testing has been a failure
    By Murray Levine and Adeline Levine
    (Murray Levine, Ph.D., is distinguished service professor emeritus in psychology at the University at Buffalo. Adeline Levine, Ph.D., is professor emeritus in sociology at UB.)

    High-stakes achievement testing has not only failed to live up to the promises of its proponents and distorted the educational process, but it has resulted in waste (money spent on testing with little gain), fraud (cheating at all levels to report better test scores) and abuse (of children subjected to excessive testing, and of teachers evaluated by tests that do not accurately measure their classroom performance.).

    The high-stakes achievement test intervention has failed over the past 10 years. It is time to hold accountability accountable, to give up reliance on fallible test scores and to pay more attention to truly educating children.

  7. nick,

    You’re still not responding to my questions about the negative effects that too much testing has on education in this country. Should I assume that you think it doesn’t matter if the mania for testing and prepping children for high stakes tests has a negative impact on children and the educational process in this country?

    BTW, as I said earlier–I’m not anti-testing. What I believe is wrong-headed is perverting education in this country by over-testing children and letting high stakes tests drive what is taught in our classrooms in this country.

    I’d really like to find out how many millions–probably billions–of dollars are spent annually on these tests. I think more money should be put toward early childhood education and smaller class sizes instead of toward high stakes testing.

  8. Blouise,

    I wasn’t able to post comments last night. I’ll try again this morning.

    “I never said Scalia wasn’t intelligent … but his reasoning ability is always diverted by his addiction to drama and performance.”

    And maybe his ideology?

  9. Blouise, I’ve discussed w/ MikeS several times how Marvin Miller was a hero for not only baseball players, but baseball. It’s part of the transcript. I’m saying the NFLPA made a horribly bad decision in picking Garvey @ the most important time. I believe unions were critical to the success of this country. I believe NOW, not back in the 20’s-70’s, but NOW, they’re self serving bloated organizations that take advantage of their members as much as business or govt. And, I think Thomas has several blow-up buddies named Juanita, Tammy and Donna.

  10. nick

    You’re ignoring “Radovich v. National Football League” Supreme Court ruling and a bunch of other stuff but that’s ok … I’ve dealt with many just like you who will go to any lengths in stretching or ignoring the actual facts regarding unions and the benefits they have brought to all kinds of American workers in order to support a stance based on emotion.

    I never said Scalia wasn’t intelligent … but his reasoning ability is always diverted by his addiction to drama and performance. The real and undebatable strength both of them possess is an ability to play the system.

  11. Blouise, The 1970’s were the critical juncture for the baseball and football unions. Baseball players hit a grand slam, football palyers got ass raped. In the 50’s and 60’s athletes were indentured servants regardless of their union. The fact that brave athletes started them is noteworthy and heroic. But, they didn’t mean anything until the 70’s.

    Don’t get me wrong, Scalia is a pompous, condescending dago. But, he is certainly quite intelligent and any intellectually honest progressive attorney would agree. And, you do know Thomas is not his best friend on the Court, Ginsburg is.

  12. My.

    How very non-partisan of you, nick.

    Just because Scalia got the post doesn’t mean he’s worthy of it. That’s post hoc reasoning. Technically acceptable and worthy are not the same thing. Clarence Thomas proves that every day. “Worthy” rarely figures in to political appointment. The only reason Scalia got nominated by Reagan on the advice of Ed Meese (another real winner) was that Scalia didn’t have the damning paper trail against civil rights that Bork did although both were both cut from the same neoconservative ideological cloth. “Worthy” means less to those making the nominations and appointments than “malleability” and “cooperative” in their selections. What makes a great Justice as opposed to a merely qualified justice? In every case it has been a jurist who puts legal reasoning and principle in defending the Constitution and citizen’s rights over their personal ideology. Scalia couldn’t do that if you gave him instructions. 1) He’s bound to his neoconservative ideology like its a religion and 2) he’s not that good at legal reasoning and logic.

    So there is that.

  13. Besides … Thomas needed a buddy.

    And I think he and Thomas are a great reflection on the state of the legal profession … I just wonder how such mediocrity made it to the top without the help of a union.

  14. “You may hate him, I accept that. ” (nick)

    I don’t hate him, I kinda like overly emotive Italians who allow their love of performing to get in front of their reasoning abilities.

  15. “Don’t try and bullshit me on this.” (nick)

    I’m talking 1956 57-58 and the NFL!!!!! Garvey didn’t show up till ’70 or ’71 after the merger.

  16. Scalia was a unanimous pick in the US Senate. You may hate him, I accept that. But he is worthy of the post and EVERY Dem in the US Senate agreed. So, there’s that.

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