Math, science skills lacking in U.S. schools

Published 9:08 pm Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Recently released data confirms what we’ve known for a while: The United States is lagging behind other countries when it comes to educating our students.

According to the 2007 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study released Tuesday, five Asian countries reported significantly higher test scores for fourth- and eighth-grade students.

The countries – Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Japan and South Korea – significantly outperform others in the developed world, including the United States, where students’ scores have stagnated since 1995.

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And, while researchers point out that the United States is a leader among the world, our students are not consistently reaching the advanced benchmarks reflecting reasoning skills and understanding of complex topics.

In short, our students are falling behind their international peers. And that will have ramifications for generations to come.

Complex reasoning, critical thinking skills and a thorough grasp of math, science and communication skills are going to be critical in the next 20 years and further into the future. As the foundation of our global economy continues to shift in this information and technological age, it’s critical that we equip our students with the tools and learning they need to be successful. It’s obvious based on these test scores that our nations have grasped the importance of this education, and their focus on it is reflected in the performance of their students in the global comparison.

And, while the American education system seems to be focusing on “no child left behind” and meeting basic benchmarks on standardized testing, we believe the expectations need to be set higher– for all our students. Our schools can, and should, be worldwide leaders in providing a solid education to young people, in all subject areas.

We cannot afford to fail in this course.