U.S. Schools Are Just Average, International Study Says

Filed under: In The News, Education: Teens

School Child Photo

U.S. students still lag behind kids in other nations, but American girls still rock when it comes to reading. Credit: Getty

Want your child to get a better-than-average education? It might be time to consider moving to Korea or Finland.

In comparison to those countries, America's schools are just average, according to a new international study.

Up against 34 other countries, American schools ranked 25th in math and 17th in science. The highest ranking for U.S. 15-year-old students in the 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment? Just above average in reading, coming in 14th place.

Maybe, you say, American students just didn't test well. Actually, the rankings are higher now than when U.S. schools were tested in 2003 and 2006. And, still, the 2009 numbers are well below South Korea, Finland, Singapore, Canada and China's Shanghai or Hong Kong.

In a 1,000-point measure, this year's results of reading at 500, science at 502 and math at 487, showed U.S. student scores hovering at or around the 500 mark. Reading has dipped slightly since the 2000 results, whereas math and science show increases from previous years.

The 2009 PISA study indicates that even after nearly 10 years since America started tackling educational reforms with programs such as No Child Left Behind, American schools are still not testing as well as their international counterparts, The Washington Post reports. And, with some poorer nations excelling on the tests, the study seems to endorse that economic prosperity is not tied to academic strength.

Seeing educational measurements in terms of future economic advancement, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development oversees the PISA. If the United States improves its test scores by 25 points in 20 years, a Stanford University and OECD study shows, that could mean more than a $40 trillion increase to the nation, strengthening America's economic bottom line.

The PISA results could be used to encourage more educational reforms in the United States, the Globe suggests.

Testing nearly a half-million students in Europe, Asia and the Americas, the report looks at the abilities of each 15-year-old's knowledge and abilities at problem-solving. According to the OECD website, PISA also studies the "results between girls and boys, as well as the influence of class size, teacher pay and the degree of autonomy schools have in allocating resources."

Additionally, the testing found that girls outranked boys in reading in most countries by as much as a year's worth of schooling or 39 points. The study also found that the more emphasis on a teacher's pay (and less priority on a small class), the better the schools' results.

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