The progress in the past 3 years from the students of the United States when it comes to the international test, has not been significant.
A survey is conducted once in every 3 years for 15 year old students picked randomly in about 65 countries. This survey tests their knowledge in maths, science and reading. What makes the programme for the International Student Assessment distinctive is that, there is no particular curriculum. It's aim is to find out what are the things really known to children and how best can this knowledge be applied to the real world.
The Unites States' students took the 26th spot in math. U.S.A was one among the 34 countries of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, which is the committee that manages the survey. Americans took 17th spot in reading and 21st spot in science.
The highest score in all the 3 subjects went to students in Shanghai-China, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea. Netherlands and Switzerland too took "almost" top rank.
As per the report from the organisation United States' students "have particular weaknesses in performing mathematics tasks with higher cognitive demands, such as taking real-world situations, translating them into mathematical terms, and interpreting mathematical aspects in real-world problems."
The Common Core Standards, which are yet to be executed in over 40 states, could help students of the U.S to perform better in math; the report suggests. Poor students show "less engagement, drive, motivation and self-belief," says the report. In general the students of the U.S are not keen to learn math: About 50% are keen on learning math, as per the report. This is below the average of 53% as set up by the organisation.
Hand-wringing and critiques have poured in from education experts regarding the results.
Monterey Peninsula Unified School District's assistant superintendent of secondary education, Ruben Zepeda said, "The PISA results are both disappointing and reflect a troubling complacency with low levels of mathematical understanding and achievement at a national level. The mediocre results will hopefully encourage educators and policymakers to take decisive action to better prepare all students' math abilities."
MPUSD needs 3 years of math knowledge for graduation from high school, was proposed by Zepeda earlier this year. However, the educators who believed that better achievement in math requires to start in earlier grades did not accept the idea proposed.
Zepeda said that, "The move to Common Core Standards will help students focus on math reasoning and modeling, but educators at school sites, along with community leaders, business and higher education, have to change their belief system that obtaining higher levels of math proficiency is only for future engineers and scientists."
The students will be prepared for college and career if The Common Core Standards are to be followed is what some believe, while the other experts of education believe that the standards have a direct impact on the ranking of the country in international terms.
The president, Michael Cohen, of the U.S education system reformation organisation based in Washington, said, "These results are a powerful reminder that we must do more to challenge and prepare our students in order to remain globally competitive."
"One of the reasons governors and state education chiefs came together to develop new standards was to have one set of educational benchmarks for K-12 that would resemble some of the highest achieving nations' standards," Cohen said. He added that the China,Finland, England, Japan,Singapore and Korea were the sources of inspiration.
A few things must be obtained from the results of test, said the National Center on Education's chief executive officer, Marc Tucker. However, strategies must be analysed by the U.S policy makers and learn from them he added.
Tucker said, "Higher performing nations provide more resources to the students who are harder to educate than to the students who are easier to educate."
"All the top performers have invested heavily in the skills of their teachers. ... Some, most notably Shanghai, have worked very hard to set up systems that have the effect of helping teachers to improve their practice year after year in a very disciplined way," he added.