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United States teens still lagging behind their global friends in education

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
December 3rd, 2013
Catholic Online (

High school students in the United States are still lagging far behind in their scholastic ability among their international friends. Vietnam, which had its students take part in a diagnostic exam for the first time had a higher average score in math and science than the U.S. This points out that the U.S. is behind left behind in an era of international competition.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - American teens scored below the international average in both math and science and reading, compared against dozens of other countries that participated in the 2012 Program for International Student Assessment, which was administered year.

Teenagers in Shanghai, China's largest city with upwards of 20 million people, ranked the best in the world, according to the test results. Students in East Asian countries and provinces came out on top, nabbing seven of the top 10 places across all three subjects.

"We must invest in early education, raise academic standards, make college affordable, and do more to recruit and retain top-notch educators," U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said, characterizing the flat scores as a "picture of educational stagnation."

Roughly half a million students in 65 nations and educational systems representing 80 percent of the global economy took part in the 2012 edition of the test.

Shockingly, the United States ranked 26th in math, trailing behind such countries as Slovakia, Portugal and Russia. American high school students dropped to 21st in science - from 17th in 2009 and slipped to 17th in reading (from 14th in 2009.

"These numbers are very discouraging," Eric A. Hanushek, an expert on educational policy and a Paul and Jean Hanna Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University says. "They say that we have to work more seriously at trying to raise the performance that leads to these scores."

U.S. scores have stayed relatively flat since testing began in 2000. Students in countries such as Ireland and Poland have demonstrated marked improvement, surpassing U.S. students.

American students historically have ranked low on international assessments, owing to a range of social and economic factors - from skyrocketing rates of child poverty to sheer population diversity. Nearly 6,1000 American students participated in this round of testing.

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