U.S. High-School Students Slip in Global Rankings

WIT:  Here is another sobering reason U.S. schools need to cultivate critical thinking and other STEM skill sets to compete globally for tomorrow’s jobs.  WIT programs are designed to motivate students toward science and technology beginning as young as grade school, teaching them to think critically then applying knowledge to real world problems. 

From “U.S. High-School Students Slip in Global Rankings:”

U.S. 15-year-olds made no progress on recent international achievement exams and fell further in the rankings, reviving a debate about America’s ability to compete in a global economy.

The results from the 2012 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), which are being released on Tuesday, show that teenagers in the U.S. slipped from 25th to 31st in math since 2009; from 20th to 24th in science; and from 11th to 21st in reading, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, which gathers and analyzes the data in the U.S.

The PISA is administered every three years by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

A representative sample of about 510,000 students took the exam in 65 countries and locales, representing 80% of the world economy.

U.S. scores have been basically flat since the exams were first given in the early 2000s.

The stagnant U.S. results are certain to spark more hand-wringing by politicians, business leaders and policy makers concerned that American students are not keeping pace with counterparts in other countries.

They are also likely to fuel the debate over which policy fixes could be instituted to boost results.

Many U.S. schools already have undergone decades of policy overhauls, including grading teachers on student test scores, expanding school-choice options and instituting more rigorous math and reading standards.

Unlike many other standardized exams that assess students’ knowledge, PISA measures whether students can apply that knowledge to real-life problems.

Experts caution against reading too much into the rankings without a deeper understanding of the differences in socioeconomic and racial composition among countries.

The U.S., for example, has more children living in poverty than do many other industrialized countries, and 15% of the variance in test scores can be explained by socioeconomic status, according to the OECD analysis.

Article originally published December 3, 2013.

Full article can be read at: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304579404579234511824563116