International

U.S. Gets Gold in International Math Competition

By Liana Loewus — July 19, 2015 1 min read

For years we’ve been hearing about U.S. students’ sliding international assessment rankings and overall poor performance in math and science.

But that narrative recently took a turn: The U.S. team won the International Math Olympiad this week for the first time since 1994.

This year’s contest was held in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and high school students from more than 100 countries participated. China, which topped all other countries in the most recent administration of a global assessment known as PISA, took second place in the math contest. South Korea came in third.

“This is a matter of national pride,” Po-Shen Loh, the U.S.’ head coach, told The Washington Post. “One reason we are super excited is that for the past five years or so, we’ve been consistently second or third. It’s actually quite difficult to win. We are going up against a natural population disadvantage in the sense that China, which is the usual winner, has four times as many people.”

The six U.S. students—all male—each tackled six problems individually. They did so in two 4.5-hour sessions. The country rankings were determined by how each student performed, and five of the U.S. team members won gold.

Wondering just how tough the math problems are? Here’s an example:

As Loh told NPR, “If you can even solve one question, you’re a bit of a genius.”

We’ll keep you updated on when the U.S. math team’s ticker-tape parade will be taking place ...


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A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.