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Education United States News

US Educational Scores Not So Abysmal 412

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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  • by mellon ( 7048 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @06:44PM (#42610091) Homepage

    It's complicated. We're better off than countries where members of lower socioeconomic classes don't go to school. But our overall scores are lower than countries with better economic equality, because so many more of our citizens are in lower socioeconomic classes.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @06:49PM (#42610149)

    It means that if we pretend that we don't have a massive income disparity in this country, and that this disparity is causing our educational system to fail, we can then pretend that everything is just fine, right up until the resulting educational problems start causing our national economy to falter and our democratic institutions to become non-functional.

  • by PolygamousRanchKid ( 1290638 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @06:54PM (#42610261)

    This, FTA, states it better:

    Because social class inequality is greater in the United States than in any of the countries with which we can reasonably be compared, the relative performance of U.S. adolescents is better than it appears when countries’ national average performance is conventionally compared.

    So the US is number one in social class inequality! Yeah! We're number one!

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

    And it demonstrates that you can prove anything you want by fiddling with statistical samplings.

  • by Bigby ( 659157 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @06:55PM (#42610289)

    No, it is saying that the survey covered, for instance:

    US higher socioeconomic pupils: 30%
    US lower socioeconomic pupils: 70%

    X higher socioeconomic pupils: 50%
    X lower socioeconomic pupils: 50%

    Which is not a scientific poll unless that is the same proportion of pupils in each socioeconomic bracket.

  • Re:Apples to Apples (Score:4, Informative)

    by NicBenjamin ( 2124018 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @07:30PM (#42610795)

    There's two problems with this argument: the facts are wrong, and it's totally misinterpreting the original article.

    First the facts. Some foreign countries (ie: Germany) have a system similar to the one you describe. Many others don't. Finland, for example, is the only country besides us actually mentioned in this article. They don't have a two-track education system until the age of 16, which is not that far off from when the US Community College vs. Real University distinction sets in. The tests they're talking about actually happen at age 13, so you are simply wrong.

    Second the original article's point is that the students tested are poorer then the student body as a whole. They're saying that while only 23% of American students go to schools where most kids are in poverty (e: qualify for cheap school lunches), 40% of American kids tested go to such schools. Our poorest kids take the damn test at twice the rates of everyone else, which isn't good for scores.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @07:33PM (#42610823)

    This... is not true. We equal Britain and are below most of the rest of Europe in social mobility. We aren't what we used to be,

  • by Billly Gates ( 198444 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @07:39PM (#42610887) Journal

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

    Speaking as a former educator I can tell you there is a HUGE difference. The number one problem is classroom management. Here is a very typical day in an inner city school [youtube.com]?

    How would you deal with such a rude and disrespectful student? In a rich school if a lady did that in the middle of class and ruined the day for the other 24 students she would be thrown to the principals office FAST. Well why can't you do that in an inner city school? Because I would throw out 1/4 of the students every single day.

    They act like animals and give no respect to authority. Epsecially if you are white. I am not racist at all but just telling you how it is. I have to be a FUCKING ASSHOLE and instill the wrath of God within 5 minutes of class and maybe I can go over some things in an urban school.

    Because we do nto want to include poor kids the school districts have quotas on how many students can be sent home each day or be disciplines. So if the quota is 6 kids per day out of 500 students in both the rich kids school and the poor kids school you are screwed!

    Teaching is a great profession if the kids want to learn but you couldn't pay me enough to deal with inner city children. Even the 1st and 2nd graders act like crazy savanges and have no issue punching another student or teacher in the face. They are used to violence and watch TV all the time because the parents are drug dealers or single mothers who work 2 minimum wage jobs and are never home just to break even at the end of each month.

    There are other issues too like parental involvement but I am not Superman and can't substitute teach effectively when I have 1 or 2 bad kids stealing away classtime. Yes, the poor kids then do worse on tests because the teachers just have to do classroom management instead of teach and of course no help from the parents suck too.

  • Comment removed (Score:5, Informative)

    by account_deleted ( 4530225 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @07:49PM (#42610983)
    Comment removed based on user account deletion
  • by Intropy ( 2009018 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @08:22PM (#42611295)

    That's not quite right. Higher economic status is correlated to higher scores. This is true everywhere. The article has two claims related to this:

    1. The US was badly sampled. It should be the case that a student in any economic group has the same probability of being included in the sample. However the sample they took has a disproportionately large number of students in lower economic groups. As an example, students attending schools with half of more of their students in poverty represent 23% of the total population of US students but 40% of the population of the test sample. Due to the correlation mentioned above, this lowers the measures scores of US students.
    2. A higher proportion of US students are in lower economic groups than in other countries.

    The first is clearly a methodology fault, and given the big difference in the example group of 40% vs 23% it could have large effects. The article doesn't discuss the details of the second group. It could be that the socio-economic divide is larger in which case it would be justified to say that still represents the country fairly and doesn't invalidate the comparison. Or it could be that children in lower economic groups are more likely to be students in the US than elsewhere. In that case it would seem perverse to claim the US educational system is worse than others because it attempts to educate poor kids. It could be both of these things or something else.

  • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) * on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @08:39PM (#42611439)

    Yes, exactly. That's even shorter than my short version! :)

    Short but wrong, because both versions assume the problem is getting worse. Test scores are going up world-wide, and have been for decades. But they are going up even faster in America.

    White kids in America do as well as white kids in Europe. Black kids in America do as well as black kids in Europe. But America has more black kids (and poor hispanic kids too). This explains ALL of the difference in test scores. We need to do better, but we should not be looking to Europe as a model, because, for similar demographics, they do no better than we do.

  • by msobkow ( 48369 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @09:14PM (#42611731) Homepage Journal

    American's can't even spell colour properly. :P

  • by buybuydandavis ( 644487 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @09:38PM (#42611961)

    White kids in America do as well as white kids in Europe. Black kids in America do as well as black kids in Europe.

    The article doesn't break it down by race, but by class. What they say in the article:

    But the highest social class students in United States do worse than their peers in other nations, and this gap widened from 2000 to 2009 on the PISA.

    So we've got more lower class, and our upper class is worse. We have relatively uneducated children.

  • by afidel ( 530433 ) on Thursday January 17, 2013 @12:14AM (#42613209)

    Not really, socioeconomic mobility in the US is largely a myth we tell people to keep them working hard.

    At least five large studies in recent years have found the United States to be less mobile than comparable nations. A project led by Markus Jantti, an economist at a Swedish university, found that 42 percent of American men raised in the bottom fifth of incomes stay there as adults. That shows a level of persistent disadvantage much higher than in Denmark (25 percent) and Britain (30 percent) — a country famous for its class constraints.[13] Meanwhile, just 8 percent of American men at the bottom rose to the top fifth. That compares with 12 percent of the British and 14 percent of the Danes. Despite frequent references to the United States as a classless society, about 62 percent of Americans (male and female) raised in the top fifth of incomes stay in the top two-fifths, according to research by the Economic Mobility Project of the Pew Charitable Trusts. Similarly, 65 percent born in the bottom fifth stay in the bottom two-fifths. link [wikipedia.org]

Have you ever noticed that the people who are always trying to tell you `there's a time for work and a time for play' never find the time for play?