05 Sep US Children Rank Middle of the Pack
American children continue to turn in flat results in a test that measures students’ proficiency in reading, math and science worldwide, failing to crack the global top 20.
The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) organizes one of the biggest cross-national tests every three years to test participating students in reading ability, math and science and in several other aspects. The most recent test organized by the examination body was conducted in the year 2015 among 15-year-olds in many developed and developing countries. In the latest result released, the U.S. was placed in a discouraging 38th position in math and 24th position in science out of the 71 countries which participated in the test. Among the 35 members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which sponsors PISA initiative, U.S. was placed in the 30th position in math and 19th in science.
Reason why U.S. Children Rank Middle in Math & Science
There are many reasons that our schools are only in the middle of the pack. But looking at the countries ahead of the U.S. we can most certainly say it is not because these countries put more money into education than we do here in the U.S. It is where they put the money that they do allocate that makes it work.
If you want to figure out why the U.S. is lagging behind the rest of the world in Math & Science, looking at the pipeline pouring into these fields is a good place to start.
Of the 40 most advanced countries, the U.S. is No. 38 when it comes to graduating science majors. That’s not good news!
While American scientists still publish more papers than their international counterparts, and American companies still register more patents, not nearly enough students are graduating with degrees in STEM fields to keep pace with the rest of the world.
If we’re going to train more scientists who will solve our ever-changing global problems, it has to start early when they begin their education. The number of STEM graduates is only a discrete data point in the journey to a job or expertise in the sciences.
What it tells us that we are not getting enough kids excited about STEM to major in it. We’re not teaching enough science in an engaging way in our elementary schools, and we’re not convincing enough middle and high school students that science is cool.
And even if we get these kids to think of STEM as cool, we’re not doing a very good job of keeping them in the sciences once they get to college. About 40% of college freshmen say they intend to major in STEM fields, according to a report from the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, but by graduation, only 16% actually get degrees in those fields.
We have to eliminate derogatory phrases like “math nerds”and “science geeks” from our vocabulary. Or we have to re-purpose them into compliments.
We have to assure more girls that they really are good at math and science. After all, only 35% of the few science majors in the US in 2012 were women, according to the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development).
We have to reignite the job, and passion, and wonder that children gain when they ask questions about the world, and science gives them the answers.
But most of all, we have to — as a parent — play our part in introducing children to the power of science at an early age to propel them and our society forward.
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