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Editorial: Global education rankings show pockets of progress

Dec. 19, 2012 @ 12:02 AM

Recent studies of reading, math and science tests administered to students in dozens of countries show that the United States is far from regaining its former dominance in student achievement, but the nation is moving forward in some areas.

The global math and science results were for fourth- and eighth-graders, while fourth-grade students only participated in the study of reading scores. The star performers, in the U.S., were fourth-graders, who showed solid gains in reading and math scores from the last reviews in 2006 and 2007.

The U.S. fourth-graders' average scores in reading and math were markedly higher than they were in similar reviews in 2006 and 2007. Their rank among countries was essentially the same as before in both subjects, meaning the nation didn't lose ground.

Unfortunately, eighth-graders showed little progress in both the math and science comparisons from previous tests, and fourth-graders did little better than before in science.

Among the good news is American students still perform better than the global average in all subject areas, the study found.

The relative better performance by U.S. fourth-graders compared with eighth-graders could suggest that education approaches implemented in recent years may be making a difference.

The outcomes for U.S. students are still far from what is desired, particularly because of the implications for the nation's economic competitiveness in the years ahead. At the least, though, the nation appears to be making some headway on the education front.

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