Math, Science, and Reading Tests Have Mixed Results for US Students

15 comments
December 11, 2012 ‐ By Kimberly Maul

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Two international reports were released this week, analyzing how students around the world perform in math, science, and reading. The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study and the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study show mixed results for US students.

Looking at fourth and eighth grade students, the US performed better than it has in the past, but still fell behind students in Singapore and Hong Kong, especially in math and science, the Washington Post reported. Several states requested to be tested separately, including Florida, Minnesota, and Massachusetts, and often performed better than the US average, though there were some critics with concerns.

According to The New York Times, the US was 11th and 7th for fourth-grade math and science, respectively, and 9th and 10th for eighth-grade math and science. For reading, US students overall ranked 6th.

There were some findings that came out showing the differences among race and ethnicity in the tests. According to the Washington Post, white, Asian, and multiracial students in the US performed better than average on the reading tests, while blacks and Hispanics scored lower.

And CBS News went into more depth: “Racial and class disparities are all too real. In eighth grade, Americans in the schools with the highest poverty—those with 75 percent or more of students on free or reduced-price lunch—performed below both the US average and the lower international average. Students at schools with fewer poor kids performed better. In fourth-grade reading, all ethnic groups outperformed the international average, but white and Asian students did better than their black and Hispanic classmates.”

Education reform is a big issue in this country, with educators, charter schools, and the public education system looking to find ways to improve results nationwide. Just last week, the Chicago Teachers Union accused the city’s public education system of racism.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/jason.f.vorhees Jason Fangz Vorhees

    You have 2 students that come from the same extremely poor (insert whatever random extremes you want here). They go to the same school, have the same bad teachers, read the same outdated books and neither has a parent or sibling at home to help with homework. Yet 1 graduates and goes on to college and the other has terrible grades in school and eventually drops out or cant get into college. One thing that is never taken into account in these reports because you really cant measure it is personal drive. There has to be a desire to want to learn. There are children graduating from every highschool in every impoverished neighborhood in america. A few even going off to college. Given all things equal as far as a terrible background do we need to begin to ask the question of “what are the kids from these impoverished neighborhoods that are graduating and going off to college doing that is so different”? Now lets look at the other side also. The article states on average blacks and latinos faired better in fairly mixed (read probably mostly white) schools but whites and asians still faired better. Given these students have access to the same exact books and probably the same access to information why cant we catch up with whites and asians?

    • KamJos

      Why can’t we catch up?
      1. We are very complacent about how bad the problem really is.
      2. It requires lots of hard work. LOTS.
      3. It requires us to accept some very uncomfortable truths about our culture, community and the way we treat education. Most people would rather the deny it or shift the blame.

      There have been schools that have been really successful in educating Black students. These schools often have a longer school day and/or school year, a higher expectation of discipline, a higher expectation of parental involvement, and a higher expectation of a student’s performance. They give their students structure as well as provide social services for any issues that may come up. Their teachers are strong but compassionate authority figures. This seems easy enough, but traditional public school systems encourage none of these.

  • TRUTH IS

    It’s soo sad when everything has to be about race even educating the future generations…sad…thats why Asian countries do better because its not about RACE!!!

    • KamJos

      Asian countries do better because they have a VERY long history of valuing education. They tend to believe that hard work = success, rather than innate intelligence. They also have no problem making incredible sacrifices for their children’s education.

  • Guest360

    The problem isn’t US students or students at all. The problem is our education system and how we conduct standardized tests. Its not about what you know or applying what you’ve learned in school. Its how you take these tests. We have classes that teach us how to pass these tests and of course, the students whose families are able to shell out thousands of dollars for them are generally the ones that do better. Until we revamp the whole system, minorities will always lag behind whites and the US will always be 100 steps behind the rest of the world who have learned to test what students know. Not how well they can take a test.

    • http://www.facebook.com/jason.f.vorhees Jason Fangz Vorhees

      explain how students who dont have money for these classes are able to pass the exams. some with extremely high marks.

      • TRUTH IS

        Natural ability but not every kid has that and needs extra. Teachers are unionized and have a dgaf tude cus the kids are damned…poor and impoverished. Kids are the future; not black not white. All kids. If they arent educated properly the future is gloomy. Better teacher in white/richer neighborhoods.

      • Guest360

        I don’t believe I ever said that poor kids NEVER pass the test, let alone receive high marks. What I did say is that on AVERAGE white students fair better than minority students because of the resources they have available to them. Everyone is taught 1+1=2 and there are a litany of poor students who know just as much academically as their white counterparts. Only difference is the tests that we’ve designed for them to take tests whether or not you can take a test well. NOT what you’ve actually learned in school. Of course many minority students arent ranking as those students whose families can afford to send them to after school programs that teach them to always choose A or C when you don’t know the answer or rule out answers that contain “always, never, sometimes”. Standardized testing is a business and until we revamp the system, this will always be the case.

  • Guest

    My mom has always told me poor children can’t learn in that poor, struggle life environment. My mom grew up extremely poor and dropped out of high school. Her mother didn’t care about education she told my mom and my aunts to find well off men to take care of them. If a woman lives in the ghettos and slums how can she find a rich man? How can she rely on her beauty when beauty is in the eye of the beholder? My mom nor my aunts found rich men to care for them. They actually never even got married.

    • Joyce

      Well, your mother was sadly mistaken. My hubby was a poor trailer trash all his life yet he is an engineer.

  • Guest

    My mom has always told me poor children can’t learn in that poor, struggle life environment. My mom grew up extremely poor and dropped out of high school. Her mother didn’t care about education she told my mom and my aunts to find well off men to take care of them. If a woman lives in the ghettos and slums how can she find a rich man? How can she rely on her beauty when beauty is in the eye of the beholder? My mom nor my aunts found rich men to care for them. They actually never even got married.

  • Guest

    My mom has always told me poor children can’t learn in that poor, struggle life environment. My mom grew up extremely poor and dropped out of high school. Her mother didn’t care about education she told my mom and my aunts to find well off men to take care of them. If a woman lives in the ghettos and slums how can she find a rich man? How can she rely on her beauty when beauty is in the eye of the beholder? My mom nor my aunts found rich men to care for them. They actually never even got married.

  • Alexa

    Though I’m glad the US has improved in their performance levels, I’m still really saddened at the fact that Black and Hispanic students still rank much lower in their performance as opposed to their white and Asian counterparts :(.

    • sabrina

      same :(

    • Joyce

      When my cousins (who are from Puerto Rico) moved to Alabama almost ten years ago, they went from C- students to A+ in no time, ranking higher than the non Hispanic whites (if it helps, they are white Hispanics) and the oldest two got full scholarships for UA (even if one of them has a learning disabiity). Still, they have heavy accents.

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