Just the Stats: U.S. Students Lag Behind in Math and Science

Overall, U.S. students are performing better in math and science than students in foreign  countries. However, U.S. students  perform considerably behind the highest-achieving countries, based on a recent study released by the American Institutes for Research (AIR), a nonprofit behavioral and social science research organization based in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Gary Phillips, chief scientist at AIR and author of the report Chance Favors the Prepared Mind: Mathematics and Science Indicators for Comparing States and Nations, categorized students into three levels: basic, proficient and advanced. The report presents an in-depth evaluation of mathematic and science scores of eighth-grade students, both internationally and in each of the 50 U.S. states. The analysis reviews scores collected in 2005 and 2007 on the  National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) for U.S, students; compared to 2003 international data on the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) for students in other countries in grade 8.

Achievement level of national mean on 2003 TIMSS grade 8 math scale

(Basic-469, Proficient-566, Advanced-637)

Source: American Institute for Research, 2007

Nation

Mean

Achievement Level of National Mean

Singapore

605

Proficient

Korea, Rep. Of

589

Proficient

Hong Kong, SAR

586

Proficient

Chinese Taipei

585

Proficient

Japan

570

Proficient

Belgium (Flemish)

537

Basic

Netherlands

536

Basic

Estonia

531

Basic

Hungary

529

Basic

Latvia

508

Basic

Malaysia

508

Basic

Russian Federation

508

Basic

Slovak Republic

508

Basic

Australia

505

Basic

United States TIMSS

504

Basic

Lithuania

502

Basic

Sweden

499

Basic

England

498

Basic

Scotland

498

Basic

Israel

496

Basic

New Zealand

494

Basic

Slovenia

493

Basic

Italy

484

Basic

(Basic-494, Proficient-567, Advanced-670)

Source: American Institute for Research, 2007

Nation

Mean

Achievement Level of National Mean

Singapore

578

Proficient

Chinese Taipei

571

Proficient

Korea, Rep. Of

558

Basic

Hong Kong, SAR

556

Basic

Japan

552

Basic

Estonia

552

Basic

England

544

Basic

Hungary

543

Basic

Netherlands

536

Basic

United States TIMSS

527

Basic

Australia

527

Basic

Sweden

524

Basic

New Zealand

520

Basic