17 December 2007

Nothing to See Here...Move Along

The AP Wire is reporting old news. Or maybe it's just written by the Department of Redundancies Department: US Students Do Worse in Math and Science.

The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) was administered last year to students in 30 countries.

The average scores for U.S. students were lower than the average scores for the group as a whole.

U.S. students also had an average science score that was lower than the average score in 16 other OECD countries. In math, U.S. students did even worse — posting an average score that was lower than the average in 23 of the other leading industrialized countries.

The test also was administered to students in about two dozen countries or jurisdictions that are not part of the industrialized group.

When compared with the broader group, the U.S. students fell in the middle of the pack in science and did somewhat worse in math.

There was no change in U.S. math scores since 2003, the last time the test was given. The science scores aren't comparable between 2003 to 2006, because the tests aren't the same.

U.S. girls and boys did about the same on the science and math portions of the test.

Finland's 15-year-olds did the best on the science test, followed by students in Hong Kong and Canada. Students in Finland, Taiwan, South Korea, and Hong Kong were the top performers in math.

There's more on the PISA site, if you're so inclined.

I don't know that I foresee any changes to US status in the near future. Math does get a lot of attention, but until science education is taken more seriously by public policymakers, we're not going to be able to make our students competitive in the world marketplace.


Hugh O'Donnell said...

You forgot to hammer the Union's role in preserving the job security of dead wood! :)

I'm sorta not kidding, either. I would have backed up that assertion. It's the one variable we haven't had the guts to mess with or talk about.

The Science Goddess said...

It depends on the state. When I talk to teachers from Right to Work states, it's not uncommon for them to mention that they aren't shy about kicking a colleagues' butt if s/he isn't pulling their share.

Tom Brandt said...

I have been reading your blog for the first time today, thanks to Hugh of Hillsboro. Thanks for the link to the PISA site. I have downloaded one of their documents to read: PISA 2006: Science Competencies for Tomorrow's World, OECD briefing note for the Unites States. (Don't you just love these long titles?) They have a ton of material so I limited my choice to this one.

I have a question about science curriculum in k-12. Is there a source on line that outlines the standard curriculum (if there is such a thing)? "Science" is such a broad topic needless to say. I would like to get a grasp on this topic.

Thanks much, and I look forward to regularly reading you blog.

Tom Brandt

The Science Goddess said...

Welcome, Tom!

There is not a "standard" curriculum for science, per se, but you might have a look at the National Science Education Standards at NSTA (http://www.nsta.org/publications/nses.aspx). This is about as close as it comes to a national view of what the curriculum should include.

Hope to see you around here again.

bbop said...

As a Canadian teacher I was surprised by the achievement gap between our two countries. We share a huge border and a quite similar socio-economic profile so what is it that Canada is doing so differently?

Is our math and science curricula significantly different? I don't think so but I haven't compared. Are we receiving different professional development? In my district we are very familiar with O'Connor, Stiggins, Moreli, et al. Our school staffs have read their books as have you in your district.

Is it because we retain more teachers than in the U.S.? It's my understanding that we have a higher retention rate for new teachers. Is that a contributing factor? What are the other factors that are creating the disparity?

I read an article in the most recent New Yorker today about reading achievement scores for American kids also falling in the last six years. But that's another story.

Happy Holidays from your neighbour/neighbor to the North.

The Science Goddess said...

Happy holidays to you, too!

I'm sure that the source of different performances will be scrutinized for some time to come. You suggest some valid possibilities.