Education Cuts: Here’s the math on U.S. student performance …


Math tools globe and compass
onsider U.S. students’ performance in math and science—compared with the rest of the world—and tell me: Is it time to cut math programs?

America’s school children don’t know enough math—even before any cuts to math programs that would make matters worse (scroll down to see yesterday’s post).

Asian countries continue to turn out the best kids at math, according to the survey Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea, and Japan top the list, according to the 2007 TIMSS survey, the latest available data. The survey is conducted every 4 years.

American 4th graders are ranked 9th of 36 participating countries on the TIMSS advanced international benchmark in math. That means only 10% reach the benchmark. Compare that figure with 41% for Singapore or 23% for Japan.

American 8th graders are ranked 10th of 48 participating countries in the survey. Only 6% reach the advanced international benchmark, compared with 45% for Taiwan or 40% for Korea.

Children in the 4th and 8th grades in the Russian Federation know more math than their American counterparts.

The good news is that American kids now know more math—there is a rising trend, according to this survey, which has tracked math achievement for years.

A few bright spots include special programs for students in Massachusetts and Minnesota. Fourth graders in the Bay State now are better at math than their peers in most Asian countries. In the Midwest, 4th graders in the North Star State showed the biggest improvement in advanced math just about anywhere in the world.

What is getting cut in your school district? What would you trade to keep math programs—or, better yet: What would you trade to invest in math education?

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