Math & Science

U.S. Students Trailing Behind In Math and Science in Comparison to Other Countries

People from all over the world come here to attend our universities and receive a diploma so that they can have a rewarding and financially successful career. Our classrooms are filled with students from Asia, including China and India. But when you look at our educational system in the lower grades, we are lagging behind.

According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, one out of three students scored “below basic” on the 2009 National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) Reading Test. Among these low performing students, 49% come from low-income families. Even more alarming is the fact that more than 67% of all U.S. fourth graders scored “below proficient,” meaning they are not reading at grade level. (The Annie E. Casey Foundation is a private charitable organization, dedicated to helping build better futures for disadvantaged children in the United States. The primary mission of the Foundation is to foster public policies, human-service reforms, and community supports that more effectively meet the needs of today’s vulnerable children and families.)

Reading proficiency among middle and high school students isn’t much better. On the 2009 NAEP Reading Test, about 26% of eighth graders and 27% of twelfth graders scored below the “basic” level, and only 32% of eighth graders and 38% of twelfth graders are at or above grade level.

That’s not all. In an assessment by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, 15-year-olds in the U.S. placed 25th out of 30 countries in math performance and 21st in science performance. This is a real problem in a growing global marketplace where students need to excel in both math and science to compete internationally as engineers, scientists, physicians, and creative entrepreneurs.

What’s more, the average math and reading scores for 17-year-olds in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) tests have remained stagnant since the 1970s. Fourth- and eighth-grade reading scores “have barely budged since 1992,” despite policy and investment focused on improving overall student achievement, according to The Journal, a publication dedicated to informing and educating K-12 senior-level district and school administrators, technologists, and tech-savvy educators to improve and advance the learning process through the use of technology.