China tops, U.S. lags in education test results

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) released results Tuesday of a study that ranks international students in reading, science and math. Their release came as a blow to the United States.

The survey, which tested 15-year-old students in participating countries, revealed the U.S. ranked average in reading and science, and below average in math. China, participating for the first time ever, blew the competition out of the water, coming in first in all three categories.

The U.S results also come on the heels of a decade-long push to improve public education, most notably through President George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation. Unfortunately for those who wholeheartedly supported NCLB, the rest of the world is not waiting for U.S. 8th graders, who perform far behind their international peers, to catch up in math.

Although the report noted that because the Chinese students surveyed were located only in Shanghai, it did not necessarily represent the entire country, it still served as  wake-up call to U.S. officials.

“For me, it’s a massive wake-up call,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan told the Washington Post Monday. “Have we ever been satisfied as Americans being average in anything? Is that our aspiration? Our goal should be absolutely to lead the world in education.”

Duncan went on to say, “The United States came in 23rd or 24th in most subjects. We can quibble, or we can face the brutal truth that we’re being out-educated.”

Other findings of the study show girls are still reading at a higher level than boys, and U.S. math scores did go up since 2006, but only back to 2003 levels (2006 was a particularly bad year). Scores are based on a 1,000-point scale, with 500 being average.

In math, the U.S. scored a 487 to China’s 600. In reading, the U.S came in 17th with a 500, compared to China’s 556. In that category, U.S. students scored in the same range as students from the Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Germany, France, and the United Kingdom.

And in science, China got a 575, while the U.S.  placed 23rd with a 502.

  • snappercat

    A significant percentage of the adult population is uneducated: unable to read to their children, unable to think critically and unable to compute the area of a room. Parents, with the complicity of teachers, have pushed to eliminate reading levels and math groups arguing that institutionally recognizing lack of success produces an inability for students to learn. Can’t pass the third grade reading test? You’ll be promoted to fourth grade anyway. Don’t know the multiplication tables? Oh well, next year you’ll learn division. Not prepared for college? No problem, there are remedial classes to teach high school math and fifth grade English. This philosophy doesn’t work in schools any more than it works in a society; without consequences for failure, too many of us are lazy enough to avoid success.

  • taz

    Our education system has been in decline for years so this really does not surprise me. Many on this post wants to point blame at the DOE for good reason but it all starts at home, this is where America is failing. Teachers are teaching to take the test instead of teaching for comprehension. Our kids and frankly adults lack the ability to think critically therefore education suffers. No matter how much money we throw at education we will continue to get the same results.

  • kingfish

    The Dept of Education MUST be abolished, a budget cut that would put billions back into the BUDGET. Education was better accomplished at the State and County level (BEFORE DOE existed). Reqardless of how much money is sunk into this department, our rankings get worse every year. The teachers spend the majority of their time NOT TEACHING, but PRACTICE TESTING. Children are BORED by the curriculum, they’re being taught George Soro’s values of gayness, hating their country, concepts most Americans DON’T AGREE WITH; one mother just removed her child because his textbook contained stories about Jesus being Satan. ENOUGH ALREADY! Bring education BACK to the States and ABOLISH this decrepit institution that follows the Anti-American agenda of George Soros. His money is turning this country into a zoo.

    • mapletree

      Excellent point about kids being bored and not learning. Adults can “force” some kids to learn but many kids won’t try to learn if they do want to. To some extent you have to get kids to interested in wanting to learn and make it interesting. Nothing could be more boring and irrelevant than the typical way kids are taught today in America’s government factory schools. As long as there is a government monopoly on education there will be no innovation.

  • Swen

    But we can take great comfort in the fact that the US ranks third in spending per secondary student ($7764), right behind Austria ($8163) and Switzerland ($9348), while China isn’t in the top 21:

    So perhaps the question should be why we spend so much money and get such lousy results?

  • mapletree

    Grab your wallet, I think someone is trying to reach into it to grab more tax money from you. The ads are running on tv how America is ranked 34th in the world and it seems these ads are effective at scaring people. Even if our children were at par, can we effectively compete with engineers from Asia willing to work for 20% of our wages? No, we can’t so I think our kids ought to be learning and doing things that we can compete on in that has a better chance of succeeding at. America has been great at using her creativity to invent things, create books, movies etc. That strength has given us a long term competitive advantage and we ought to foster that. That is not easily reproduced elsewhere compared to manufacturing where all you need are the machines. In many other countries you are just another brick in the wall and they don’t have the kind of environment that creates inventors and innovation. Let’s build on our strengths and not get in a panic about this.

  • Joe Astroturf

    Arne Duncan who thought Katrina was a good thing wants more money for her favorite people teachers unions. She cares for the students as much as Michelle cared for Dontae Adams before she prevented him from coming into her hospital years ago. She did get triple her salary for her troubles and the White House though.

  • chuck in st paul

    The stupider and less informed the proletariat is the easier it is to convice them that black is white, up is down, socialism and Marxism are successful, etc.

  • I_Walk_Alone

    Because of the current American “political correctness” system US students are no longer allowed to “compete” in anything; academics/grades or “Test Results”…
    Since the Liberal, weak “Political Correct” crowd is running this once proud Nation (United States of America; 1776-20**) into the ground No Wonder COMMUNIST CHINA is beating America when it comes to Test Results…