Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Paging Iris Mack: The Sad State of Mathematical Abilities Among US Students

The US Ranks 26th in the world in math.

While the U.S. spends more per student than most countries, this does not translate into better performance (e.g. the Slovak Republic, which spends around $53k per student, performs at the same level as the US, which spends over $115k per student), according to the Programme for International Student Assessment.

PISA adds that students in the US 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.

Mathematics scores for the top-performer, Shanghai-China, indicate a performance that is the
equivalent of over two years of formal schooling ahead of those observed in Massachusetts,
itself a strong-performing U.S. state.

Students in the U.S. are largely satisfied with their school and view teacher-student relations
positively. But they do not report strong motivation towards learning mathematics: only 50%
students agreed that they are interested in learning mathematics.

Also, in the United States, students comprise  a below-average share of top performers in mathematics. These top performers are defined as those who can develop and work with models for complex situations, and work strategically using broad, well-developed thinking and reasoning skills. Only 2% of students in the United States reach the highest level (Level 6) of performance in mathematics, compared with 31% of students in Shanghai,China.

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