Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Scath and Mience

I make a big stink about American kids not being very good readers. But, they're also not great at math and science. Of the 30 countries in the OECD, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a Paris-based group that represents the world's richest countries, American high school students came in 17th in Science and about 24th in Math, although there were two countries who did about the same, so there were only four that did worse.

Is there any good news in all of this? American students did as bad when they were tested back in 2003, so they're not getting worse at math and science. Also, so far the story has only appeared in newspaper articles, which many Americans can't make sense of anyway. So, hurrah!

Endnotes: Reading this again, it sounds a bit snarky. Truth is it bugs me that US kids are getting shortchanged in their education, it bugs me that they don't seem to care that they're getting shortchanged, and it bugs me that the education system doesn't allow for the sort of interventions that they seem to need. What to do? I learned a decent amount of math and science, but I was self-taught. High school was largely counterproductive in my experience. I learned a lot more when I was out of school.


Holly said...

This testing is big in the news here right now, it's got 2/5 front page (online) headlines for the biggest national newspaper, and was in the Deutsche Welle radio news all day yesterday.

Interestingly, the coverage of that testing, here, does not even mention the US. I thought, at first, that the US had somehow stayed out of it. Apparently they just don't think it's worth talking about anyone who is consistently below the halfway-mark.

The big stink for the German speaking world, about that evaluation, is that the math and natural sciences are slipping, and that immigrant kids are doing so much worse than the natives. That wouldn't be a big surprise, except that also the 2nd generation immigrant kids are doing worse than the first generation. This is true of both Austria and Germany, but not the other countries involved.

Also, Austria seems to have the most pronounced gender differentiation, especially in reading comprehension and natural sciences.

It hasn't been clear from the coverage what is to be done about it, though. Mostly it was just clear that being "average" isn't to the taste of these people, and that they clearly hold immigrants responsible for bringing down the group scores. This was actually said on several occasions during an interview with a German education minister.

Rufus said...

Somehow, it's just reassuring to hear that other countries worry about these things too.