The United States of America is a superpower with an economy that is superior to the economies of many countries in the world. However, American students lag behind in education. The economic and technological superiority of America is not reflected in the academic abilities of students. Studies conducted to compare the academic abilities of American students and students from other countries revealed that American students lag behind, especially in science, writing proficiency, and mathematics (NCES, 2011).
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A study conducted to compare academic performance in 57 countries revealed that American students are average compared to other countries. Countries such as Canada, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea, and Estonia performed better than America. Sixteen countries performed better than America in mathematics, while 23 countries performed better in science. The study also revealed that there is a wide gap between high-performing and low-performing students in America than in other countries.
American students are unable to compete globally compared to students from other countries. Lack of competitiveness is attributed to the U.S education system that is unable to adapt to contemporary educational needs and realities (NCES, 2011). A study conducted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) ranked the United States at number 32 among 65 countries that took part in the international test. American students portrayed a lack of competitiveness and inferior academic abilities.
A survey conducted by the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) revealed that American students are not as proficient in science and mathematics as students from other countries. However, their reading proficiency is higher than that of students from other countries. This is attributed to the fact that a great percentage of the student population in America comprises natives. For example, fourth graders are ranked among the best students in reading literacy in the world. Commenting on the findings of the survey, the director of PISA said that:
“The average score attained by American students in reading literacy was 500, which was better than the score of students in 13 OECD countries. However, it was lower than the score of students from 6 OECD countries. In reading literacy, girls performed better than boys, who were more proficient in mathematics and science” (NCES, 2011).
The gender gap in reading literacy is lower among American students than in other countries. American students performed poorly in mathematics compared to students from 33 OECD countries. They only performed better than students from only 5 OECD countries. On the other hand, American students performed better in science than only 9 OECD countries (NCES, 2011). Asian countries outperformed the United States in all subjects considered in the survey. These countries include Singapore, Taipei, Hong Kong, Korea, and Japan.
American students rank lower in writing proficiency than students from other countries. A study conducted to compare writing proficiencies among students revealed that American students have poor writing abilities. According to Dr. Jack Buckley, representative of the National Centre for Education Statistics,
“There was not a lot of difference in levels of proficiency from 2007, when the most immediate prior writing assessment was administered” (Kuczynski, 2012).
The survey revealed that only 25% of 8th and 12th graders are proficient in writing. In other countries, at least 45% of students are proficient in writing (Kuczynski, 2012).
American students lag behind in education compared to students from other countries. They are less competitive and perform poorly in mathematics, science, reading literacy, and writing proficiency. Surveys conducted have shown no significant improvement in mathematics, science, and writing proficiency for many years. However, improvement has been observed in reading literacy.
Kuczynski, A. (2012). Most U.S Students Lack Writing Proficiency, National Assessment Of Educational Progress Finds. Web.
National Centre for Education Statistics (NCES): International Comparisons of Achievement. (2011). Web.