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Education United States News

US Educational Scores Not So Abysmal 412

Posted by Soulskill
from the hooray-we-are-slightly-less-dumb-than-we-thought dept.
DavidHumus writes "The much-publicized international rankings of student test scores — PISA — rank the U.S. lower than it ought to be for two reasons: a sampling bias that includes a higher proportion of lower socio-economic classes from the U.S. than are in the general population and a higher proportion of of U.S. students than non-U.S. who are in the lower socio-economic classes. If one were to rank comparable classes between the U.S. and the rest of the world, U.S. scores would rise to 4th from 14th in reading (PDF) and to 10th from 25th in math."
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US Educational Scores Not So Abysmal

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  • Re:So what? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @06:51PM (#42610189)

    Unfortunately it's easier to come up with scapegoats than address real problems.

    For example, see how many people will blame Teacher's Unions or the Federal Department of Education rather than question how much emphasis the local school board puts on Football stadiums.

  • by vlm (69642) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @06:52PM (#42610199)

    Short version is we're intentionally turning the USA into a 3rd world country including achievement, but forcing school attendance like a 1st world country.

  • by sjames (1099) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @07:00PM (#42610377) Homepage

    And there's the key. Our scores ARE abysmal, it's just that much of the blame goes to our failure to address the socio-economic divide rather than to our educational system.

  • by Dahamma (304068) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @07:00PM (#42610385)

    This just means that the US has extremely rich kids, who are smart. And extremely poor kids, who are dumb.

    No, it means the US has rich kids receiving a good education, and poor kids receiving a poor education.

  • by kenh (9056) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @07:04PM (#42610433) Homepage Journal

    Poor people can succeed, rich people can fail academically - money alone doesn't "fix" anything in education, it just makes it look nicer.

  • by spiffmastercow (1001386) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @07:11PM (#42610543)

    Poor people can succeed, rich people can fail academically - money alone doesn't "fix" anything in education, it just makes it look nicer.

    And it's clearly no more difficult to study when you have 5 siblings in a 1 bedroom household where you have no computer and eat nothing but dollar menu McDonalds with no hope of ever paying for an education than it is if you live in a McMansion with more bedrooms than occupants, have private tutors, go to private school, and have a trust fund waiting to make sure you don't have to work in college.

  • by clarkkent09 (1104833) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @07:16PM (#42610607)

    No, it means the US has rich kids receiving a good education, and poor kids receiving a poor education.
     
    Hmm, the uncomfortable reality is that rich kids perform better even in same schools with same teachers. It's what happens at home that makes the difference, namely greater expectations from parents and a greater range of activities and experiences outside the school.

  • by uniquename72 (1169497) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @07:18PM (#42610629)

    Poor people can succeed, rich people can fail academically - money alone doesn't "fix" anything in education, it just makes it look nicer.

    You're partially right. Poor people CAN succeed, but rich people are much, much more likely to.

    I grew up dirt poor and succeeded, academically and otherwise. But I'm the only one in my family -- and nearly the only one in my high school -- who "succeeded" by any normal definition of the word. Now look at the average SAT scores of folks that the Rockefeller's and Bush's of the world grew up with -- almost nothing but successes.

    Surely you're not suggesting that there's not a VERY strong correlation between money and academic success? Money's not the cause of that success, but it's a massive, massive contributor.

  • by LateArthurDent (1403947) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @07:22PM (#42610679)

    This just means that the US has extremely rich kids, who are smart. And extremely poor kids, who are dumb.

    No, it means the US has rich kids receiving a good education, and poor kids receiving a poor education.

    It's more complicated than that. You can't just put the poor kids in the same school as the rich kids and expect them to suddenly do a lot better. I went to a really good high school, and while I was taking the AP and honors classes, the poor kids in the same school were, for the most part, not.

    There's a whole lot of built-in advantages that come from having educated parents. Before you even go to school, they've generally taken the time to teach you a great deal of things, which gives you a leg up against your classmates. When you first start taking math, and you have problems understanding basic arithmetic, they're going to be able to help you with that homework, whereas other kids go home, and their parents don't have the knowledge to help them. Your parents might take the time to involve you in their electronic hobbies where you get to learn something they don't teach at the schools, while the other kids' parents don't have any hobbies other than watching TV, because buying random electronic parts to build something doesn't really fit in their budget...

    Basically, the problem needs to be approached from a socioeconomic perspective, not just a quality of schools perspective.

  • Re:So what? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sco08y (615665) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @07:43PM (#42610919)

    Unfortunately it's easier to come up with scapegoats than address real problems.

    For example, see how many people will blame Teacher's Unions or the Federal Department of Education rather than question how much emphasis the local school board puts on Football stadiums.

    I don't need to justify firing them. They need to justify their jobs because they're being paid with money extracted from people by the threat of jail.

    You want to take tax dollars to pay for your noble cause, the burden of proof is on you, not on the taxpayers.

  • by Taco Cowboy (5327) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @07:47PM (#42610953) Journal

    It depends on which American high school you're talking about.

    I've been to some high schools that are packed full of high achievers and I've been to some high schools where each and every students have to gone through a metal detector before they are allowed to enter the school compound

    There's just no justice to do any comparison between the two because their differences are so great they are much more like school systems from two very different countries

  • by clarkkent09 (1104833) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @08:11PM (#42611209)

    And yet even with a "massive waste of human talent" the US leads the world in innovation, scientific achievement, per capita GDP (at least compared to countries that matter), military power (even in comparison to pretty much the rest of the world put together) etc etc. Why are there no European Google, Amazon, Apple, Facebook. Do you realize that huge majority of the largest and best companies in the world are US based? Do you realize that 70 of the top 100 universities according to Times Education rankings are in the US? Just imagine what we could do if we didn't have that "massive waste of human talent".

    Or perhaps the answer is that relative economic liberty that enables economic growth and innovation cannot be separated from inequality. You can choose one or the other.

    Europe is rotten economically and politically to the point where a new wave of dictatorships and wars (a regular occurrence in that part of the world) is not unthinkable anymore and the reason for that is not unrelated to sacrificing liberty for the sake of equality i.e. sacrificing some people for the sake of others.

  • by Rinikusu (28164) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @10:00PM (#42612171)

    I've got a half-dozen friends who are all teachers at inner-city schools in one of the most violent cities in America. Most of them are women. They manage to do just fine. I guess you just suck at teaching.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @10:31PM (#42612473)

    Test scores are going up because the test scoring system is bogus. As an example, in North Carolina, when physical science had an EOC (before all this MSL garbage) for a student to be considered proficient a score of 81 (or a 3 on a scale of 1-4) they only had to answer 31 of 60 questions correctly. It is easy to claim test scores are going up when the scores are being manipulated. The reality is, the students I teach today learn a quarter of the content I learned. Even then they are barely able to form a coherent thought or solve a simple problem.

  • by WaywardGeek (1480513) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @11:05PM (#42612721) Journal

    It saddens me to see such a post get moded 5 "informative," while being so wrong. It shows how ill-informed about education we are on Slashdot.

    We white guys tend to think of black and Hispanic cultures as uninterested in education. This is simply not the case, at least not in Chapel Hill, NC, where I live. The truth is that kids who don't get enough to eat and who don't know if their dad will pay the rent this month have much bigger problems to worry about than spelling and math. I visited our local black and Hispanic communities, and found that those where home ownership was high had good test scores. Neighborhoods of shabby rentals where the kids are underfed do poorly. I also found that very poor white families did almost as bad as poor black and Hispanic families. In Chapel Hill, 90% of the achievement gap is explainable by the gap in severe poverty.

    A few years ago my neighborhood was redistricted in a way that the school my kids were zoned to could not succeed. Some a-hole in Southern Village "won" the redistricting contest, and while the rest of the district was rezoned mostly wisely, this guy booted most of the blacks and half of the Hispanics out of his daughter's school and concentrated poverty in another one. He threw our upscale neighborhood (not in Southern Village) into the school just to make it look a little better on paper. That's when I decided to check out what was really going on in these schools. By the way, the school is shutting down now, due to poor performance.

    Carrboro, where our school is, has some desperately poor areas. The illegal immigrant population is so poor, many of their kids don't get enough to eat. Also, there's old mostly black mill town neighborhoods that are owned by slum lords. I talked to several black families there to get a feel for what they were looking for in a school, and what they felt were the challenges, because at the redistricting meetings, not one parent from any poor neighborhood showed up. I tried and failed to talk to any Hispanic family. When I knocked on their doors, all the Spanish language radio stations were silenced, lights turned off, kids were quieted, and the door was not answered. I assume this is what they have to do to avoid ICE.

    On the other hand, in lower-middle class neighborhoods in north Chapel Hill where ownership is high, black and Hispanic kids do very well, almost as well as the white kids, even though they are poorer on average. It seems that once you have a place to live, enough food, and maybe a car, then regardless of cultural and racial background, the next priority is educating your kids.

    I keep hearing from liberal friends that we need to spend more on education to give the next generation of black and Hispanic families an equal chance. I hear from conservative friends that spending more money wont help, because the school system is fundamentally screwed up, and because black and Hispanic families fail because they don't try and don't care - it's their fault. Both sides are wrong. The problem isn't that schools are underfunded or teachers aren't good enough, nor is the problem that black and Hispanic parents don't care about educating their kids. The problem is severe poverty. What we need to do is dramatically reduce poverty. We can do this, but as a nation we've decided that it's OK for blacks and Hispanics to be poor. Just like in our days of slavery, we see poor blacks suffering, and do nothing about it. We haven't lifted a finger to help them get ahead, and probably did a lot to hold them down. We're generous with tax dollars when it comes to building jails to lock up them up, and ICE has plenty of funding to deport Hispanics, but we don't do a damned thing to help these people find a way out of poverty. We're OK with blacks commiting crimes in poor black neighborhoods, and we're OK with illegal imigrants picking all our strawberries for us. In short, we do poorly in education because we're still racist. It's not overt racism like before, but whites in the US are OK

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @11:06PM (#42612729)

    "You're partially right. Poor people CAN succeed, but rich people are much, much more likely to."

    Statistically this is true but the lack of money is not the main reason for the correlation. As a teacher in NYC for nearly 20 years I can attest that a large portion of the non immigrant lower income people have severe emotional and/or ability to learn issues due to low IQ, drugs use of the parent during pregnancy, mom had baby with man she did not know etc.. No amount of money is going to change this. Even if the child was adopted at birth into a middle income family made up of a mother that is an english professor and a father that is a math professor at an Ivy league school.

    The myth is that this is all due to poverty is just a myth played out by a bunch of white rich folks that feel bad and statistical studies that start out with an answer and manipulate stats to fit their hypothesis It is this attitude that is holding the entire education system back. All American born poor in NY have 100% access to free healthcare, ;low cost or basically free apartments , access to the same schools as the low income immigrant child (whose parents speak no english and parent has ZERO . education in their home country). What's the difference? The child from Ecuador is not "damaged " by drug use during pregnancy has average IQ and mom and dad that create a loving environment. LOVE TRUMPS ALL. I can't tell you how many children from public housing I have taught over the years that are emotionally unavailable, have never been taught basic human interaction skills. As a concerned teacher who teaches not to make money, but rather to make a difference in childrens lives, I have made a major outreach to try to understand why they are not doing well. In a large number of instances the parents did not want the child in the first place(the child was a mistake) and instead of working together to help the child, they curse you out and call you a racis(I am African American)

  • by afidel (530433) on Thursday January 17, 2013 @12:06AM (#42613165)

    Not really, for example in Germany they have a rigidly tiered system where kids are divided by potential between the 4th and 6th year of primary school. Children of lower socioeconomic status are almost always excluded from the college prep track due to a host of issues, but dominated by a lack of free time on the part of the parents in the preschool years (the same is true in the US which is one of the things the headstart program was aimed at remedying).

  • by Count Fenring (669457) on Thursday January 17, 2013 @12:24AM (#42613277) Homepage Journal

    I agree with just about everything you say besides this: "Both sides are wrong." The left isn't as single note as you're putting them here - there's a pretty widespread understanding that poverty is the root cause of inequity, and that education is just one of many places that desperately need work.

    If your friends genuinely just think it's an education problem, well, there's something screwy there - but we genuinely DO have deep inequity built into our education system, much of it coming out of the 80s and 90s, much of it in the guise of "measurement" or "achievement-based funding."

    But seriously - it's kind of just that sentence, and only in that it implies equal blame, when it's really more of an 80/20(but still benefiting from the results) kind of thing. The left has been a pretty useless ally, but the right is actually working hard every day to make it worse.

    Your opinion of the parent poster is spot on, and, as someone who did a lot of subbing in Sarasota, Fl. (the most segregated city in the U.S., btw.) it's really, really true - poverty, much of which is directly the result of the insane racism we as a society still cling to, is the root cause of this shit.

  • by HalfFlat (121672) on Thursday January 17, 2013 @12:42AM (#42613397)

    Social mobility when achieved through government policy rather than economic reality will cost more in the long run.

    I think both theoretically and evidentally, this is not the case. If you are brought up with wealth, you have better nutrition, better education, more lucrative social networks, more useful free time, and a far less severe exposure to risk. If there is no government policy to redress this imbalance, then probability dictates that wealth concentrates and poverty, on the whole, becomes entrenched. And this is what we see in the modern US.

    Individuals certainly have opportunities to make for themselves a better life. But if they are coming from a poor background, those opportunities are far fewer, they must work harder to take advantage of them, and the consequences of failure are much more severe. Essentially, the dice are loaded.

    Moral considerations aside, a society where 80% of the population have the opportunity to take risks and be innovative and exploit usefully the extant infrastructure is going to be economically more successful than one in which only 20% do.

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