I’m sure it’s just a coincidence but, in the age of Obama, American schoolchildren have fallen further behind their counterparts in other countries.
The Wall Street Journal reports on the most recent results, which compare scores from 2009 with scores from 2012:
U.S. 15-year-olds made no progress on recent international achievement exams and fell further in the rankings, reviving a debate about America's ability to compete in a global economy.
The results from the 2012 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), which are being released on Tuesday, show that teenagers in the U.S. slipped from 25th to 31st in math since 2009; from 20th to 24th in science; and from 11th to 21st in reading, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, which gathers and analyzes the data in the U.S.
Naturally, a massive effort is underway to explain how this could have happened.
High on the list is the fact that more Americans live in poverty. Apparently, after four years of Obama the nation’s poverty rate exceeds that of other industrialized countries. One might also ask how many American children are being brought up on broken homes. Surely, that impacts academic performance.
The Journal explains:
Experts caution against reading too much into the rankings without a deeper understanding of the differences in socioeconomic and racial composition among countries. The U.S., for example, has more children living in poverty than do many other industrialized countries, and 15% of the variance in test scores can be explained by socioeconomic status, according to the OECD analysis.
The New York Times has debunked the idea that it’s all about America’s unacceptably higher level of poverty. When the survey isolates the best American students and compares them with the best in other countries, our children do not fare well:
In the United States, just 9 percent of 15-year-olds scored in the top two levels of proficiency in math, compared with an average of 13 percent among industrialized nations and as high as 55 percent in Shanghai, 40 percent in Singapore, and 17 percent in Germany and Poland.
Jack Buckley, the commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics, noted that American students from families with incomes in the highest quartile did not perform as well as students with similar backgrounds in other countries.
As for what we can do to improve test scores, class size does not seem to matter, but a child’s good character does:
The analysis found a strong correlation between higher test scores and students' school attendance and punctuality. But it found a low connection between class size and test scores.
What does America need? More Tiger Moms!