Comparative Indicators of Education in the United States and Other G-8 Countries: 2009

Abby Rossbach

National Center for Education Statistics
March 2009

The United States still has some catching up to do in science and math education before its schools can stand equal to those in other G-8 nations, according to the fourth in a series of reports published by the Institute of Education Services' National Center for Education Statistics. The report draws from the results of four international student assessments.

Although American students scored higher than average than several of their G-8 peers in reading on the Progress in International Reading Study, their performance in mathematics and science left much to be desired.

On the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study assessment, Japanese students outperformed students in all other participating G-8 countries with 26 percent of eighth graders reaching the advanced benchmark compared with only six percent of U.S. students. On the Program for International Student Assessment, 15-year-old students in the United States scored lower than their peers in the U.K., Germany, Japan, and Canada. About one-quarter of them scored at or below the lowest proficiency level on the test.

The report notes that teachers in the United States have a lower average number of years of teaching experience than all of the other G-8 countries and a higher frequency of behavior problems in the classroom, but it would be difficult to point to either of these as the main cause for the continuing lackluster results.

The United States isn't doing everything wrong, though. The percentage of teachers participating in professional development in mathematics and science was significantly higher than most other G-8 countries. Considering that in 2008 the United States had the largest percentage gain in the population of 5-to-29-year-olds, the population most likely to be enrolled in education, it would be worth our while to spend some time figuring out why our students are performing lower in certain areas than their peers in the world's other most economically developed countries.

For the report, see here.

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