New results from an international test of the math, science and reading skills of 15-year-olds find that American teenagers are, well, average.

The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) tests students every three years to determine how they compare globally.  65 countries and education systems participated in the most recent study.

Here are some of the findings:

In math, U.S. 15-year-old students actually came in below average. Asian countries took the top seven spots.  The United States came in behind Latvia, Luxembourg and Iceland, to name a few.

Only nine percent of the U.S. students tested scored in the top proficiency levels, while 26 percent scored at the bottom. The study found that students in Shanghai, China are the equivalent of two years ahead of American students in math.

U.S. students do a little better keeping up with their global cohorts in science .  The PISA tests found that seven percent scored at a high level, and that’s about average.  However, the 15-year-olds in 22 countries or education systems—including the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Canada and Vietnam—do better overall in science.

Nearly one in five 15-year-old U.S. students scored at the lowest end of the scale in science, roughly equal to the global average.

The trend continues in reading.  The average score of U.S. students was lower than 19 education systems, higher than 24 and about the same as 11 other countries.  Again, Asian countries are at the top.  The U.S. ranks just behind Germany, China and Switzerland, and just ahead of Latvia, Spain and Luxembourg.

In the Shanghai, China education system, one in four students reached the highest levels of reading proficiency.  In the U.S., that number is less than one in ten.

The report finds the scores for U.S. students are “not measurably different” from any time over the last 13 years, yet we’re losing ground.  That’s because other countries are doing better, according to Jan Rivkin, co-chair of Harvard’s U.S. Competitiveness Project.

“While our scores in reading are the same as 2009, scores from Belgium, Estonia, Germany, Ireland, Poland and others have improved and now surpass ours,” Rivkin told National Public Radio.  “Other countries that were behind us, like Italy and Portugal, are now catching up.  The problem is not that we’re slowing down. The problem is that other runners are getting faster.”

The United States remains a global behemoth and surveys still rank the U.S. among the most competitive economies in the world.  However, those same surveys also note some slippage. The PISA results may explain at least part of the reason why.

In the expanding and hyper-competitive global economy, average just isn’t good enough.

 

 

 

 

 

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Comments

  • John S. Shackelford

    Well, parents, students, unions and the court system are running the schools. The legislature just wasted millions of dollars on the statewide school system, which will not correct anything.
    The reasons johnny can't read is that he doesn't. The reason he flunked the test is because he didn't know many of the answers.

    My recommendation to the legislature last term:

    1.Give control of the classrooms back to the teachers and principals.
    2. Pay teachers and principals well, more than the chiefs upstairs. We can't afford career ladders for education in West Virginia. Funnel the monies allotted for school learning equipment DIRECTLY INTO THE CLASS ROOMS. Increase audits to make sure this is happening.
    3. Get the NEA, WVEA and unions out of the school system.
    4.Let students that can excel, do just that. Quit dumbing down the curriculums. If you don't want your feelings hurt, study your lessons.
    5. Remove students that are mentally handicapped and place them in a school well suited for their needs.

  • WV Guru

    Did it ever occur to people that many, many of the smart folks have left for a better life?

  • Harley

    Because our children are wasting their minds on computer games and social media.

  • mark

    Kind of expected Hoppy to elaborate as to reasons why it's happening. Not up to his usual high standard on this one. I would like to read why he thinks WV students are ranked so low on a yearly basis.

  • Andy

    Falling behind in *all of the above* due to falling behind in school

  • Joe

    As an engineer of 35 years, I feel I can at least comment on the technical and math side.

    Bottom line , the US continues to produce the best of the best technical and engineering students in the world. By that I mean original and innovative thinking students who are moving forward to the next revolutionary technology breakthrough. There has not been one since the invention of the integrated circuit in 1970 by Intel American engineers. Please do not confuse smaller, faster and fancier pcs TVs, phones, etc. as tech breakthroughs. All of these are simply extending the capabilities of silicon wafers, which we now have reached the limit.

    Asian and Indian engineers are excellent at copying and reverse engineering. But there is a reason why true tech innovation does not come out of these regions.

    The next world changing tech innovations will be next generation carbon-based integrated circuits, nuclear fusion, and interstellar vehicles requiring no propellant.

    Please remember American engineers put a man on the moon 45 years ago. No other country has. American engineers mastered the logistics, command and control and weapons systems of an air craft carrier strike group 70 years ago. China has yet to master any of these on their lone rebuilt 50 year old Russian carrier.

    Enough America bashing already.

  • Joe

    As an engineer of 35 years, I feel I can at least comment on the technical and math side.

    Bottom line , the US continues to produce the best of the best technical and engineering students in the world. By that I mean original and innovative thinking students who are moving forward to the next revolutionary technology breakthrough. There has not been one since the invention of the integrated circuit in 1970 by Intel American engineers. Please do not confuse smaller, faster and fancier pcs TVA, phones, etc. as tech breakthroughs. All of these are simply extending the capabilities of silicon wafers, which we now have reached the upper limit.

    Asian an Indian engineers are excellent at copying and reverse engineering. But there is a reason why true tech innovation does not come these regions.

    The next world changing tech innovations will be next generation carbon-based integrated circuits, nuclear fusion, and interstellar vehicles requiring no propellant.

    Please remember American engineers put a man on the moon 45 years ago. No other country has. American engineers mastered the logistics, command and control and weapons systems of an air craft carrier strike group 70 years ago. China had yet to mate any of these on their lone rebuilt 50 year old Russian carrier.

    Enough America bashing already.

  • 4WVUinKY

    Can't we all just get along?

  • scott

    123 comments thus far says that Hop's has done his job here.

  • Steven

    Finland is doing very well and climbing every year. They do not teach to test, they teach to learn. They also require teachers to have their master degrees and are 95% unionized.

    How do we expect our children to learn when we do not learn from our mistakes?

  • Marcus

    So where is the why?

  • Shadow

    There is only one cause: The Parents... They don't care.

  • Shadow

    There is only one cause: The Parents.... They don't care.

  • Fairport

    take out WV and Mississippi and we would be first in all categories

  • Indian Boy

    US children and particularly WV children are not taught how to reason or problem solve. They are taught to do well on standardized test to make the schools and teachers look good. Couple this with a lack of instruction in basic math and reading skills, In order to push AP classes before students are ready for it, and the result is a nation of underachieving students. Remember, our greatest accomplishments were achieved by people that received a good basic education K - 12, and advanced education in COLLEGE where it belongs. That is what counts, not the scores of 15 year old students. Ever wonder why ALL COLLEGES have remedial classes for freshmen.