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December 19, 2007

International test scores

It's well known that competencies in math and science are becoming more important in our increasingly technical world. Also, in today's globalized economy, it's important that students in any country perform well in math and science. How well are U.S. students doing?

Dr. Mike Walden, North Carolina Cooperative Extension economist in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at N.C. State University, responds:

"Periodically we have studies that come out that answer this question. We now have a new study - brand new study just released - that looked at how well U.S. students are doing on math and science compared to students in other areas. And the other areas are England, Italy, Japan, Russia, Scotland - of course, Scotland is part of the UK with England – and, of course, the U.S.

"The study looked at competencies at three levels of math and science. And what I'm going to give you is the U.S. ranking on these competencies. And again, there were six countries, so when I give you the ranking, you can perceive where the U.S. ranks.

"For low levels of competencies, U.S. students ranked third in math and second in science. For medium levels of competencies, U.S. students ranked fourth on math and third on science. For high levels of competencies, U.S. students ranked fourth on math and third on science.

"So I think the general conclusion here is that U.S. students are ranking about in the middle. We're not the lowest; we're not the highest. We're right there in the middle. The big issue though is whether this is going to be enough. We all know that math and science jobs pay very well, so countries want to have them. If we want to get our share, maybe we have to do better."

Posted by Dave at December 19, 2007 08:00 AM