High Achievers Scarce in Math, Science in U.S.
Although reaction to new international testing data has focused mostly on the middling performance overall of American 15-year-olds, the results also serve as a reminder that the United States is not exactly a world leader even in producing a cadre of top-tier performers in mathematics and science.
Only about 10 percent of U.S. students scored in the two highest achievement categories in math on the Program for International Student Assessment , or PISA, well short of the figures for a host of other nations, from South Korea and Japan to France, Germany, and New Zealand. In fact, the U.S. results were below the average for the 34 nations in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
In science, the U.S. position was more favorable, but not dramatically so. With 9.2 percent of American students meeting levels 5 or 6, the United States was about average among OECD nations, trailing more than a dozen PISA participants, including Finland, Switzerland, Canada,...
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