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U.S. Below Averages in Science & Math

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Old 03-10-08, 05:40 AM Thread Starter   #1
Frodo Baggins
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U.S. Below Averages in Science & Math


There is an interesting article here about how the U.S. performed under the average on an International Student Assessment report done by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Be sure to read the discussion at the end.

Feel free to share your thoughts, though, be aware of the fact that if you haven't experienced teaching in different countries, it's hard for you to take a strong stance on any comparison.

I, for example, have never experienced teaching in the US, which is why I'm so curious about these results.
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Old 03-10-08, 05:54 AM   #2
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If you ever visit Texas, you simply MUST visit Beaumont (pronounced boh-mont). I will gladly take you there, I lived there for a decade . Next will be Vidor, TX. It's just as bad, but a lighter shade of tan (it's a KKK hometown). Drive by Meridian, Mississippi as well and see the sights and inhabitants.

Once you do this, you will understand why the US has such low results on science and math.

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Old 03-10-08, 06:53 AM   #3
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I'm not surprised.

I don't think the problem is the teaching, I think the problem is the students. They think they will be able to get by with just getting through high school. Sometimes they think they can drop out and make it. At least this is what I noticed when I was in school in GA.

Overall, I had excellent teachers that would help you out if you wanted it. But the student had to show the initiative. Students just really didn't care. I'd say from my graduating class 10% dropped out, 70% graduated, 20% went to college. There is not a real emphasis on education down here and it shows in test scores.
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Old 03-10-08, 07:05 AM   #4
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I disagree in some cases. Some teachers let students pass the year without learning a thing, which is why when I took auto mechanics, I had a classmate that couldn't read ANYTHING. He passed our class, just like he passed english (we had written tests yet he passed, go figure). I'm just as guilty in math back then. I get math now, took physics and all that, but back then I didn't, and my senior year I spent geometry walking the halls and even smoking outside. Guess what - I passed.

So in some cases it is the teachers perpetuating a problem, but the only way to fix that is to catch it early on in the child's life.

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Old 03-10-08, 08:07 AM   #5
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I think that many of the problems with poor performance go into the realm of motivation. In many countries students are driven to perform due to the culture of need: if you do not do your best and succeed it is well known what the alternatives are. In many systems those with no motivation or behavioral issues are phased (weeded) out or tracked into other paths.

In the US we have a culture of universal privilege in education: if a student will not study, is indolent, is behavioral, it is addressed as a problem with the educational setting-we scream that those teachers need to be accountable. Look at the mandates of the No Child Left Behind law in that ALL students (100%) will be proficient as established by 2014. Guess what, just one student falls below, there goes your %100. Ever hear of a bell curve? Just because you coin a catchy name it does not solve the problem.

My opinion, the real issue is not with the fact that we are spending billions on new prisons while our schools crumble, and that a first year prison guard with a high school diploma can typically make more then a ten year teacher with a master’s degree. Not that the population is aging out and does not want to support schools with needed taxes, not that the state and federal government approach the issue as one of Teacher accountability.

I think the problem lies in that the majority of our population has been living off the fat for so long that most of our children would rather be hitting the IPOD or the Xbox rather then the books.
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Old 03-10-08, 08:45 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by =ACID RAIN= View Post
I disagree in some cases. Some teachers let students pass the year without learning a thing, which is why when I took auto mechanics, I had a classmate that couldn't read ANYTHING. He passed our class, just like he passed english (we had written tests yet he passed, go figure). I'm just as guilty in math back then. I get math now, took physics and all that, but back then I didn't, and my senior year I spent geometry walking the halls and even smoking outside. Guess what - I passed.

So in some cases it is the teachers perpetuating a problem, but the only way to fix that is to catch it early on in the child's life.
[rant]

It's pretty much the same thing here in the non-honors/AP classes. The students don't care; they go to class (or sometimes they don't), they talk the whole class period, and they don't learn anything and somehow they manage to pass (usually). Of course, not learning anything can also be attributed to the curriculum and the teachers. I learned nothing in my regular English class last year. Not a single thing. Every book we read that year, I had already read in 7th or 8th grade, and I knew more about English grammar than the teacher did. It seems to be a trend, as well, that the non-honors teachers aren't quite the best teachers (putting it kindly), but the sad thing is, that even though they're nowhere near the level of the honors teachers, most of the kids here who are in the regular classes are complete idiots, and it's probably because they don't care about school, and they never have cared, so they've never learned anything. Sadly, even though the curriculum in those regular classes is so easy, some students still manage to fail. It's amazing how little some people care about education, and personally I blame the fact that our society puts so much more emphasis on other things, and most people don't really care about education anymore. That's why you see athletes who barely passed high school getting paid millions of dollars a year, but teachers barely get paid enough to make ends meet. And of course, most students are going to try and make as much money as possible after they graduate, and the most money available is as an uneducated jock or celebrity. It's ridiculous.

[/rant]

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Old 03-10-08, 08:51 AM Thread Starter   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by turd View Post
I think that many of the problems with poor performance go into the realm of motivation. In many countries students are driven to perform due to the culture of need: if you do not do your best and succeed it is well known what the alternatives are. In many systems those with no motivation or behavioral issues are phased (weeded) out or tracked into other paths.

In the US we have a culture of universal privilege in education: if a student will not study, is indolent, is behavioral, it is addressed as a problem with the educational setting-we scream that those teachers need to be accountable. Look at the mandates of the No Child Left Behind law in that ALL students (100%) will be proficient as established by 2014. Guess what, just one student falls below, there goes your %100. Ever hear of a bell curve? Just because you coin a catchy name it does not solve the problem.

My opinion, the real issue is not with the fact that we are spending billions on new prisons while our schools crumble, and that a first year prison guard with a high school diploma can typically make more then a ten year teacher with a master’s degree. Not that the population is aging out and does not want to support schools with needed taxes, not that the state and federal government approach the issue as one of Teacher accountability.

I think the problem lies in that the majority of our population has been living off the fat for so long that most of our children would rather be hitting the IPOD or the Xbox rather then the books.
You make some interesting points. But I think you're missing a key statistic.

If you examine the scores, you'll find that Canada, the UK, and Australia all had higher scores. These can hardly be classified as "cultures of need". In fact, we can argue that Canadian and the British children are just as eager to hit the iPods and the Xboxes as Americans. Heck, Korea placed higher than the US and we all know how intense the video game culture is over there (it's a telling sign when Americans and Canadian 'professional video gamers' are heading to Korea to participate).
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Old 03-10-08, 09:07 AM   #8
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South Carolina also has some of the worst public schools in the nation. It's very depressing to see the state of our public schools. I went to a private school that was very challenging, but not everyone can afford that luxury and they just fall through the cracks.

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Old 03-10-08, 09:13 AM   #9
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I think it's a cultural thing. One thing that disturbs me about culture here is that there is a large focus on the immediate, and a denigration of learning--especially math and science. You see it from pop culture especially, but it has made its way into other aspects of life like religion and politics.

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Old 03-10-08, 09:15 AM   #10
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In all seriousness, I think it is American Culture that impacts our grades. We're a nation that demands instant gratification and fast results. Material objects such as television and myspace give us instant gratification, while we generally forget about more important - and delayed gratifications - things like literature, math, music and art. Off topic, but I was listening to NPR radio a few months ago and they were discussing a new study that says 1 out of 3 people in the United States will not finish ONE book a year. As long as the U.S. is a global power that can get their scientists and mathematicians elsewhere, we'll still see this same trend of below average students.

I see more emphasis now (after highschool and all my required math courses in college) to study math and science than I did before, which is why I'll probably just take science and math courses at a community college in the future.

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Old 03-10-08, 09:21 AM Thread Starter   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cursor View Post
I think it's a cultural thing. One thing that disturbs me about culture here is that there is a large focus on the immediate, and a denigration of learning--especially math and science. You see it from pop culture especially, but it has made its way into other aspects of life like religion and politics.
Again, I want people to pull their focus to the fact that Canada and the UK are both ranked significantly higher than US.

People who are arguing that the main reason why the US performs so poorly is due to cultural differences with the rest of the world -- well, are we not in agreement that the cultural differences between the UK, Canada, and the US are small? To say that videogaming, MTV, or whatever is rampant in the US is to make the same statement about the other westernized (advanced) nations.

Also, I don't know how many of you have been to some parts of Asia, but at least we are aware that a lot of the frivolous stuff you may see in American television and the media is mirrored in Asia. They have their own MTV, their own dramas, and are arguably more obsessed with video games than Americans.

No, I don't agree with the common sentiment to shovel all the blame onto videogames, MTV, myspace, and pop culture. Otherwise, these difference would clearly manifest themselves in, for example, Canada as well.

Last edited by Frodo Baggins; 03-10-08 at 09:26 AM.
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Old 03-10-08, 09:25 AM   #12
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One thing I asked myself...

Do these scores take into account the amount of person taking the test? The US is a very large and diversely populated country. In some cases allowing other persons in the school system from countries that may not have a robust science program.

Do immigrants lower the test scores? Does overall amount of students in the education system adjust the scores. The school systems in the US are truly diverse. In the higher scoring countries. Do they deal with ESL or the primary teaching of the tongue needed to get a grasp on the subjects tested?

This is not to bash immigration/FES in the US. I just want to know if the tests allow for the US's "open door" of sorts in the education system. The books here are in English, and not all students may not fully understand how to use or read this language. Which puts the tested students (on a curve) at a disadvantage. Since it can take about 2 years to grasp fully a (new the them) written and spoken language for the average person.
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Old 03-10-08, 09:27 AM Thread Starter   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Enablingwolf View Post
One thing I asked myself...

Do these scores take into account the amount of person taking the test? The US is a very large and diversely populated country. In some cases allowing other persons in the school system from countries that may not have a robust science program.

Do immigrants lower the test scores? Does overall amount of students in the education system adjust the scores. The school systems in the US are truely diverse. I nthe higher scoring countries. Do they deal with ESL or the primary teaching of the tongue needed to get a grasp on the subjects tested?

This is not to bash immigration/FES in the US. I just want to know if the tests allow for the US's "open door" of sorts in the education system. The books here are in English, and not all students may knot fully how to use or read this language. Which puts the tested students at a disadvantage. Since it ca ntake about 2 years to grasp fully a (new the them) written and spoken language for the average person.
Did your read the whole article? This is discussed at the end.
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Old 03-10-08, 09:28 AM   #14
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Again, I want people to pull their focus to the fact that Canada and the UK are both ranked significantly higher than US.

People who are arguing that the main reason why the US performs so poorly is due to cultural differences with the rest of the world -- well, are we not in agreement that the cultural differences between the UK, Canada, and the US are small? To say that videogaming, MTV, or whatever is rampant in the US is to make the same statement about the other westernized (advanced) nations.

Also, I don't know how many of you have been to some parts of Asia, but at least we are aware that a lot of the frivolous stuff you may see in American television and the media is mirrored in Asia. They have their own MTV, their own dramas, and are arguably more obsessed with video games than Americans.

No, I don't agree with the common sentiment to shovel all the blame onto videogames, MTV, myspace, and pop culture. Otherwise, these difference would clearly manifest themselves in, for example, Canada as well.

Culture extends far past media my friend. Culture also reflects the communities approach to these situations, families desires of their children, what we value and so on. I am aware that many parts of the world now have American media in their shadows, but the cultures are still different.

I'm not say you are wrong, all I am saying is that do not focus culture just on the commercial aspects.

Media, School, Family, Friends and Government are all cultural impacts that need to be looked at. How does Canada approach those five social forces? How does the UK approach those five social forces? These are questions you must ask.

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Old 03-10-08, 09:34 AM Thread Starter   #15
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Culture extends far past media my friend.

Point taken. But it was more of an example than anything. Also, it was more to address the fact that people in the thread -- up until this point -- have only commented on this factor.

Quote:
Media, School, Family, Friends and Government are all cultural impacts that need to be looked at. How does Canada approach those five social forces? How does the UK approach those five social forces? These are questions you must ask.
My impression was that culturally (as in all those social forces you mentioned), Canada, the US, and the UK are similar enough to warrant similar scores.
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Old 03-10-08, 09:36 AM   #16
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Quote:
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Did your read the whole article? This is discussed at the end.
Having a 'lets round'.. 10% of non-native of 10 million versus 50 million at 6% is pretty much a hard divide. Your going to get a much higher diverse population with an interest in the subejcts.

I am not going to mention the amount of slackers that 300+ miliion will produce versus 25 million.

The US school system is busting at the seams.

Last edited by Enablingwolf; 03-10-08 at 09:42 AM.
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Old 03-10-08, 09:42 AM Thread Starter   #17
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Having a 'lets round'.. 10% of non-native of 10 million versus 50 million at 10% is pretty much a hard divide. Your going to get a much higher diverse population with an interest in the subejcts.

I am not going to mention the amount of slackers that 300+ miliion will produce versus 25 million.

The US school system is busting at the seams.
This does seem to be a pickle doesn't it.

After reading up on more statistics, I have to say I never realized quite how many immigrants the US recieves per year (slightly more than 1 million). But that being said, keep in mind Canada has the highest per capita immigration rate in the world.

Meaning, scaling with population, Canada takes in more immigrants than the US.

So why the large difference? Are we to argue that even though the US has fewer immigrants per capita than Canada, the fact that they have more still skews the statistics (why?). I suppose one theory is that since immigrants band together, this produces large variations in quality of schooling (producing some areas with very well funded schools and areas with very poorly funded schools), and this will produce larger variations in scores.

In other words, the problem is variation. Although Canada has more immigrants per capita than the US, the fact we have fewer means the quality of schooling is still homogeneous, with the government being able to fund and maintain a wider band of schools.

Last edited by Frodo Baggins; 03-10-08 at 09:49 AM.
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Old 03-10-08, 09:45 AM   #18
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See the point. The US is busting in the seams versus the smaller countries. Not just in non-native speakers. It is about the masses of students.
I adjusted a little bit in my last post. I went from a higher 10% to 6%. Which still gives loads more students then the smaller countries. Which will in reality gives a really good chance of a high variable.

The US is all about bulk I guess.
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Old 03-10-08, 09:45 AM Thread Starter   #19
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See the point. The US is busting in the seams versus the smaller countries. Not just in non-native speakers. It is about the masses of students.
I adjusted a little bit in my last post. I went from a higher 10% to 6%. Which still gives loads more students then the smaller countries.

The US is all about bulk I guess.
Sorry. See my above edit.
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Old 03-10-08, 09:52 AM   #20
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Still in the overall. When a country only has lets say 10 million students countrywide. Can it compare to the 75(abstract) million US students in variety of mind and subject interests?

I believe all students should know and understand basic science/math. It is a pipe dream to expect every mind to accept this. Some might like other things.

Myself, I struggle with writing. It cursed me in higher education. I excelled in other areas though.
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