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Sunday, December 16, 2012

U.S. fourth graders show gains in science, math; eighth-grade achievement flat

"American fourth-graders are performing better than they were four years ago in math and reading, but students four years older show no such progress, a global study released Dec. 11 revealed." reports eClassroom News.


Photo: eClassroom News
Although the U.S. remains in the top dozen or so countries in all subjects tested, the gap between the U.S. and the top-performing nations is much wider at the eighth-grade level, especially in math.

“When you start looking at our older students, we see less improvement over time,” said Jack Buckley, commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics, which coordinated the U.S. portion of the international exam.

Even where U.S. student scores have improved, many other nations have improved much faster, leaving American students far behind many of their peers—especially in Asia and Europe.

Other findings released Dec. 11:
  • Some U.S. states that were measured separately were clear standouts, performing on par with or better than some top-performing Asian countries. Eighth-graders in Massachusetts and Minnesota score far better in math and science than the U.S. average. But in California and Alabama, eighth-graders fell short of the national average.
  • 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 U.S. 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.
  • Boys in the U.S. do better than girls in fourth-grade science and eighth-grade math. But girls rule when it comes to reading.
  • On a global level, the gender gap appears to be closing. About half of the countries showed no statistically meaningful gap between boys and girls in math and science.
The tests are carried out by the International Association for Evaluation of Educational Achievement, a coalition of research institutions. The U.S. portion of the exams is coordinated by the Education Department’s National Center for Education Statistics.
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Source: eClassroom News


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