Tuesday, December 7, 2010

U.S. Students 17th in Science, 25th in Math but "Killing It' In Reading at 14th; Bernanke Offers Solution to Education Crisis via QE6, and GOP Vows to Cut Taxes as that Fixes Everything

Ok ok, a bit cynical on the headline but judging from national policy there is no problem a little lot more QE can't fix, or tax cuts or a surge in spending in every direction cannot fix.  I'm sure these numbers will turn around next year as we're doing all three. I used to be worried about such studies but now I see there is nothing that money printing and distribution cannot fix, so it is simply for informational sharing.

The latest figures are out and in the international 2009 results we have good news  - the freefall of America has stopped; we've settled in nicely for another year in the the 25th slot on math (a barbaric science best left to Nordic countries and the Asians) and 17th in science.  [The survey is every 3 years]  We were 25th in math in 2006 but out of 30 countries, rather than 34 OECD this time around - hence we're movin' on up like the Jeffersons.  (take that Luxembourg.... Latvia, we own you!)  And as for reading?  Killed it.  40th percentile in the OECD baby.  I knew a generation of addicted text messengers would yield results. USA! USA! USA!

I imagine somewhere a teacher union head is denouncing these results as statistically insignificant and egregiously flawed. Further these type of studies cause people to "teach to the test" hence are unfair (and mean).  The socialists up north in Canada and in Finland continue to do well (obviously they spent 250 days a year teaching to this test)... and Asians are dominant.  (300 days a year teaching to the test)  Shanghai top marks in all 3; Hong Kong and Singapore right behind.

In a related note my weekly sojourn to Burger King netted a charge of $5.77.  After handing said cashier $6.00 at which time she was able to use the computer to create the precise change amount of $0.23 I kindly offered an additional 2 pennies to her.  To which a mix of confusion, horror, and darting eyes stared back.  If only she was Canadian.

Here are the top 10 - remember we are still #1 in creativity (just ask us) and the ability to build apps for the iPhone.  With the the #1 ranking in printing little green pieces of paper, that is all that matters.

1Shanghai Ch (556)Shanghai Ch (600)Shanghai Ch (575)
2Korea (539)Singapore (562)Finland (554)
3Finland (536)HongKong Ch (555)HongKong Ch (549)
4HongKong Ch (533)Korea (546)Singapore (542)
5Singapore (526)Taipei Ch (543)Japan (539)
6Canada (524)Finland (541)Korea (538)
7New Zealand (521)Liechtenstein (536)New Zealand (532)
8Japan (520)Switzerland (534)Canada (529)
9Australia (515)Japan (529)Estonia (528)
10Netherlands (508)Canada (527)Australia (527)

[China was not part of the 2006 study; of course the data is skewed since these are Chinese students in a huge urban center - not the general populace]

Other scary irrelevant stats - especially considering we spend more than any other country ex-Luxembourg. 
  • In Canada, 15-year-olds are more than one school year ahead of their US peers in math and more than half a school year ahead in reading and science.
  • The United States has also fallen behind in the percentage of 15-year-olds who are enrolled in school, ranking third from bottom of the OECD countries, above only Mexico and Turkey.
  • Only eight OECD countries have a lower high school graduation rate than the United States.
  • The report notes that countries like Estonia and Poland perform at about the same level as the United States, while spending less than half the amount per student.
  • Education Secretary Arne Duncan said the results are shocking. (why shocking? they are effectively the same results as 3 years earlier) The 46-year-old said: 'The brutal fact here is there are many countries that are far ahead of us and improving more rapidly than we are. 'This should be a massive wake up call to the entire country.'
  • The OECD’s international test, first administered in 2000 and given every three years, aims to measure skills gained by pupils nearing the end of their compulsory schooling.  Some 5,233 U.S. students from 165 public and private schools took part in the two-hour exam, which was taken in September and November 2009 and consisted of multiple-choice and open-response questions.

    At this point I bring out my favorite video that long time readers will be tired of ;)


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