Education

Dec 3, 2013 11:35 PM by Jennifer Horbelt

U.S. performance low in global exam given to teens

WASHINGTON D.C.- "Educational stagnation". That's how Education Secretary Arne Duncan is describing American performance in the most recent global exam given to 15-year-olds.

Tuesday, the annual PISA results were announced. PISA stands for the "Programme for International Student Assessment." It's considered the worldwide benchmark for educational ranking by country, with tests taken by more than half-a-million students.

The test measures standards in subjects like math, science and reading across Europe, North and South America, Australia, Asia and parts of the Middle East. This year, Tunisia in Africa also participated.

In short, U.S. performance was extremely low. The U.S. failed to reach the top 20 in any of the tested subjects.

America fell notably below the United Kingdom, and well behind most of our Asian counterparts. Germany, France and Switzerland also outpaced the American test scores.

"The brutal truth, that urgent reality, must serve as a wake up call against educational complacency and low expectations," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. "The problem is not that our 15-year-olds are performing worse today than before. The problem, instead, is that they are simply not making progress. Yet, students in many other nations, as the Secretary-General pointed out, are advancing, instead of standing still."

The PISA results also show that several countries which once lagged behind the U.S. in 2009 now out-performed American students in areas such as science and math.

Secretary Duncan did highlight some positive factors about the U.S. educational system, saying there has been a 50% jump in college attendance by hispanic students, and a national bump in math and reading scores among teenagers.

Duncan rebuffed critics' claims that poverty and diversity were obstacles to better American performance in international education, noting that other deeply diverse nations well outranked us, and that even Vietnam was higher than us on the list. That country's poverty level hovers around 75%.

He added that innovation, resources and urgency are needed to propel American students to a more competitive level in the global marketplace.

 

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