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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

It's Not As Bad As You Were Told!

In addition to constantly telling you how bad South Carolina Education is, those same folks will tell you how bad the US Education is. Well, they distort those facts as well. A recent article: FACT CHECK: Are US students really that bad? By AP Education Writer LIBBY QUAID, sheds some light on this.

A sampling:

WASHINGTON – America's moms and dads are getting a good scolding: Your kids are lagging behind students all around the world.

The White House says so, with concern bordering on alarm. So do institutions such as the Gates Foundation, citing performance tests, graduation rates and other benchmarks.

But don't measure for dunce caps just yet.

While they're not in first place, U.S. students generally hold their own on international tests.


Obama says the rest of the developed world is passing America by. "Our schools continue to trail other developed countries and, in some cases, developing countries," he told the National Academy of Sciences on April 27. "Our students are outperformed in math and science by their peers in Singapore, Japan, England, the Netherlands, Hong Kong and Korea, among others."

That is not the whole story.


Obama's education secretary, Arne Duncan, says American kids don't spend enough time in school.

"Our children are competing for jobs against children in India and China today, and those children are going to school 25, 30 percent more than us," Duncan said at Brookings this past week.

Obama himself said in March: "Our children spend over a month less in school than children in South Korea every year. If they can do that in South Korea, we can do it right here in the United States of America."

The president is in luck: The U.S. already is doing it.


Helping more students finish college is a priority among the many philanthropies that work on education issues. In a December speech at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., the younger Gates said the U.S. problem is acute.

"In the case of college education, we were No. 1 in the world 20 years ago in the percentage of young adults with a postsecondary credential. Now we're number 10 and dropping," Gates said.

Obama said this in March: "In just a single generation, America has fallen from second place to 11th place in the portion of students completing college. That is unfortunate, but it's by no means irreversible."

The college figures come from various tables provided by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which runs the PISA test of 15-year-olds.

But those figures are misleading for several reasons, said Cliff Adelman, a former Education Department researcher now at the Institute for Higher Education Policy.

_They are based on entire populations, not on what actually happens to students who enter college in a given year. Graduation rates in a large, growing country such as the U.S. will not look as good as those of a smaller country whose population is declining.

_No one disputes that the U.S. high school dropout rate, 1 in 4 kids and worse among minorities, is awful.

But as with other international comparisons, measuring the U.S. against the rest of the world is like comparing apples and oranges.

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