In Global Testing, U.S. Students Lag

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), December 8, 2010 | Go to article overview

In Global Testing, U.S. Students Lag


Byline: Christine Armario Associated Press

United States students are continuing to trail their peers in a pack of higher-performing nations, according to results from a key international assessment.

Scores from the 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment released Tuesday show 15-year-old students in the U.S. performing about average in reading and science, and below average in math. Out of 34 countries, the U.S. ranked 14th in reading, 17th in science and 25th in math.

Those scores are all higher than those from 2003 and 2006, but far behind the highest scoring countries, including South Korea, Finland and Singapore, Hong Kong and Shanghai in China and Canada.

"This is an absolute wake-up call for America," U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said. "The results are extraordinarily challenging to us and we have to deal with the brutal truth. We have to get much more serious about investing in education."

The PISA exam is one of a handful of tests that compare educational levels across nations, and is considered to be the most comprehensive. The test focuses on how well students are able to apply their knowledge in math, reading and science to real-life situations. Some 470,000 students took the test in 2009 in 65 countries and educational systems, from poor, underdeveloped nations to the most wealthy.

Student performance on international assessments is considered especially relevant as today's high school graduates enter a global job market, where highly skilled workers are in increasing demand. …

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