New Report Says US Kids Still Lagging Behind in Math, Science, Reading
Sixth in fourth-grade reading.
Seventh in fourth-grade science.
And 11th in fourth-grade math.
That’s where U.S. kids are ranked worldwide right now, according to a report released this week by the Institute of Education Sciences.
That’s a research group that’s part of the U.S. Department of Education.
The report also found that U.S. eighth-graders aren’t doing any better, on average – ninth overall in math and 10th in science.
Who’s at the top?
Mostly, it’s kids in Asian countries, according to the report.
Among fourth-graders, South Korean kids ranked first in science, kids from Singapore ranked first in math and kids in Hong Kong ranked first in reading.
Among eighth-graders, Singapore came in first in science and South Korea came in first in math.
What’s the reason?
According to New York Times reporter Motoko Rich, it has to do with “the weight that a particular culture puts on math and science.”
“As the child of Asian immigrants, I am not surprised by these results,” Rich wrote. “My brother and I spent many a beautiful summer’s day standing stiffly in the living room, reciting multiplication tables, while our American friends played outside.”
There’s nothing wrong with playing outside.
But clearly, if we want to be the best, something has to change.
“It starts with a real recognition of the importance of education,” said Anthony Wilder Miller, the deputy secretary of the US Department of Education, in an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Not enough parents or (kids) understand the importance of education.”
Other experts say U.S. kids need to get a better head start on their education – even before they get to school.
“What’s remarkable is that in all the (top) countries, this concept of an early start is there over and over again,” said Michael Martin, executive director of the International Study Center at Boston College, in an interview with the Times.
And according to other experts, you can’t just cram a lot of facts into kids’ heads.
You have to teach how to take all that information and make sense out it.
“Learning is going to be a lifetime activity for our young people,” said David Conley, the chief executive officer of a group called the Education Policy Improvement Center, in an interview with the Journal-Constitution. “Getting them to learn how to learn is just as important as what they’re learning.”
We like to chant, “We’re number one!” at the Olympics and other world sporting events.
Maybe it’s time we started putting the same priority on being number one in the classroom as well.