Thursday, December 9, 2010

Study Shows U.S. and UK Education Worsening

British pupils are 16th in science, 25th in reading and 28th in math in world education rankings.

The United States and the United Kingdom were solidly beaten by a host of countries in math, science and reading tests conducted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (oecd), published on December 7.
Asian nations regularly came top in an assessment of 470,000 15-year-olds in 65 different countries in 2009 under the oecd’s Program for International Student Assessment (pisa).
Out of the oecd countries, South Korea came top in reading and math, and third in science. Finland came second in reading and math, and took the top spot for science. However, when China (not an oecd nation) is included, and subdivided into economic regions, then Shanghai comes out on top, by far, in all three categories.
With China’s regions are included, Finland (third), Canada (sixth), New Zealand (seventh) and Australia (ninth) are the only non-Asian nations to make the top 10 when the results from all three categories are averaged.
The UK’s ranking has plummeted since the pisa first began in 2000. This year it came 16th in science, 25th in reading and 28th in math (ranking includes non-oecd countries, and China’s regions). In 2000 they were fourth in science, seventh in reading and eighth in math.
The U.S. performed even worse, coming 23rd in science, 32nd in math and 17th in reading. Both nations remained above the oecd average for reading and science (though only barely, for the U.S.).
The important point is not that the U.S. and the UK did spectacularly badly—they didn’t; they ranked just above the middle. The point is, they did not do spectacularly well. The trend is worth noting. If the U.S. wants to remain the world’s only superpower, it will have to be the world’s best educator—otherwise new technologies will go to other nations, leaving the U.S. behind. This in fact is already happening.
This educational decline is not just found in 15-year-olds. A separate study earlier this year found that the American share of top universities is shrinking. America’s fall in the educational league tables forecasts its fall as a major power.