U.S. Students Lag In International Math Scores


Chinese math students outperform U.S. students in international rankings.

Not being a math whiz myself, I just chalked up our daughter’s lack of enthusiasm and performance in math when we were in China as hereditary. It hadn’t dawned on me that, prior to living in China, she actually did well in math and that the other half of her genes came from her dad, who is highly proficient in the subject!

It hit me like a ton of bricks when we returned to the U.S. and she began scoring 100’s on her exams and whining about re-learning the same math taught two years ago in China — maybe it was the system that was broken and under-performing, not our daughter.

I was prompted to look into this further when I stumbled upon an article about the U.K. government hiring 60 math teachers from China to help boost students’ math scores. Not surprisingly, I found that while the U.K. math scores were below the U.S. average, both were below the international average. Whereas, China and Korea, for example, outperformed the international average.

NPR’s Bill Chappell addressed rankings in his December 2013 article, U.S. Students Slide In Global Ranking On Math, Reading, Science: “The Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA, collects test results from 65 countries for its rankings, which come out every three years. The latest results, from 2012, show that U.S. students ranked below average in math among the world’s most-developed countries.”

Why is this? What should we do about it? I have my own theories and ideas, but would love to hear what you think. Please reply with your comments and thoughts!

Want more information? Read further at the links below.

Wondering how you’d do on the test? Try these PISA sample questions.

View up-to-date reports on the National Center for Education Statistics web site.

PBS: How do students in the United States compare to those around the world?

The Atlantic: American Schools vs. the World: Expensive, Unequal, Bad at Math

The Washington Post: U.S. students lag around average on international science, math and reading test

New York Times: American 15-Year-Olds Lag, Mainly in Math, on International Standardized Tests

San Jose Mercury News: U.S. students score below international averages in math, reading and science


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