American High School Students Flunk Science and Math

American high school students performed poorly on a test given to 400,000 15 year-olds from all over the world, according to results announced this week. U.S. students finished 16 out of 30 industrialized countries on the science test, and 23 out of 30 in math. The reading portion of the American test was thrown out because of a printing error.

The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) is a system of tests given every three years in reading literacy, mathematics literacy, and science literacy. Over 5,600 American students took part in 2006, and did about the same as they did in 2003.

One troubling aspect of the test results is that students from private schools and those from high socio-economic backgrounds performed much better than public school students from disadvantaged homes. Although this held true in most countries, it was particularly true for American students.

Andreas Schleicher, an author of the PISA report, said that other countries have diverse pools of students but they are better “able to lessen the impact of socioeconomic background.”

The United States scored 489 in science and 491 in math, below the international averages of 500. Top scoring students came from New Zealand, Finland, Canada, and Japan.

For more information about the PISA report, see http://www.oecd.org/document/22/0,3343,en_2649_201185_39713238_1_1_1_1,00.html