Every three years, the Programme for International Student Assessment, or PISA, tests 15-year-old students in reading, math, and science. Out of 71 countries, the U.S. was in 38th place in math, and 24th place in science.
That’s not all. The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, or TIMSS, tests 4th and 8th grade students every four years. Out of 48 countries, U.S. 4th graders were in 11th place in math, and 8th place in science. However, among 8th grade students, the U.S. placed 8th in both math and science, out of 37 countries.
But Craven pointed out an important factor about these test results:
One concern with international tests is that they may not be comparing apples to apples. John Craven, associate professor of education in the Graduate School of Education at Fordham University, tells GoodCall®, “TIMSS and PISA are two widely cited international tests used to compare educational systems at the international level.” However, he explains, “Some researchers and practitioners debate the validity of those as a measure of a country’s educational system’s ability to prepare future citizens with 21st century skills.”
Craven says there are other concerns. “Also, some question the assumption that the educational system of a country can be represented and judged as a single model or enterprise.” For a county such as the U.S., which has diverse demographics and educational models, Craven says this is particularly true.
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