The following is an insightful article, “Debunking Education Myths: America’s Never Been Number One in Math” by Liz Dwyer. It gives a bit of quantitative ammo to support the feeling I’ve always had: America has never had any “good ol’ days” when it was #1 in math. Here’s a taste of her article:
Has America really fallen behind the rest of the world in academic achievement? According to a new report from the nonprofit Brookings Institution, all the doom-and-gloom commentary suggesting that we’ve fallen from the top spot simply isn’t true. And, even more surprising, America’s results are actually on the rise.
National panic ensued last December when data from the Program for International Student Assessment tests revealed our less than stellar international math results. Even worse, high schoolers from our competitor du jour, China, scored the top spot. But the report’s author, Tom Loveless, writes that, “The United States never led the world. It was never number one and has never been close to number one on international math tests. Or on science tests, for that matter.”
Back in 1964, American 13-year-olds took the First International Math Study and ended up ranking in 11th place. Considering that only 12 nations participated, including Australia, Finland, and Japan, our next-to-last performance was pretty abysmal. Other international tests American students have taken over the years have also never showed that we were in the top spot. It’s a myth that we’ve fallen from our glory days.
Hat tip to Alexander at CTK.