American 8th-graders lag in math and science
WASHINGTON — American fourth-graders are performing better than they were four years ago in math and reading, but students four years older show no such progress, a global study released Tuesday revealed.
Although the U.S. remains in the top dozen or so countries in all subjects tested, the gap between the U.S. and the top-performing nations is much wider at the eighth-grade level, especially in math.
“When you start looking at our older students, we see less improvement over time,” said Jack Buckley, commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics, which coordinated the U.S. portion of the international exam.
Even where U.S. student scores have improved, many other nations have improved much faster, leaving American students far behind many of their peers, especially in Asia and Europe.
With an eye toward global competitiveness, U.S. education officials are sounding the alarm about what they describe as a recurring theme when American students are put to the test. Lamenting what he described as “sober cautionary notes,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan said it was unacceptable that eighth-grade achievement in math and science is stagnant, with U.S. students far less likely than many Asian counterparts to reach advanced levels in science.
“If we as a nation don’t turn that around, those nations will soon be outcompeting us in a knowledge-based, global economy,” Duncan said.