Relax: America's Never Been Tops at Math

US scores have actually been improving
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Feb 11, 2011 8:31 AM CST

(Newser) – There’s been a lot of talk lately about American math scores falling behind the rest of the world—a December assessment of standardized tests put China at No. 1, and the US at No. 31—but that’s actually a myth, Good reports. The fact is that the US “was never number one and has never been close to number one on international math tests. Or on science tests, for that matter,” says the author of a new report on international test results.

Indeed, while our scores aren’t great, they've actually been climbing. In 1964, American students came in 11th out of 12 countries in the First International Math Test. But on the PISA test—the December test that’s making waves—we scored in the middle. “We once were terrible and now we're mediocre,” says the report’s author. What’s more, US scores jumped between 2006 and 2009, increasing 13 points in both math and science. And this is worth noting, says a Stanford researcher, who says that a 25-point increase "over the next 20 years would boost United States GDP by $41 trillion."

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