Students In Major Cities Perform Better Compared to International Peers

Students in six major U.S. cities are performing on par or better in mathematics than their peers in other countries in grades 4 and 8, according to a new study by the American Institutes for Research (AIR).

However, students from five other major cities are not faring as well, and overall, U.S. student performance in mathematics falls off from elementary to middle school grades — and remains behind many industrialized nations, particularly Asian nations.

The report, Counting on the Future: International Benchmarks in Mathematics for American School Districts, offers the first comparison between students from large U.S. cities and their international peers. The study compares U.S. 4th grade students with their counterparts in 24 countries and 8th grade students with peers in 45 countries.

“If you are a student today competing for jobs, the good jobs will not go to the best in your graduating class – they will go to the best in the world,” said Dr. Gary W. Phillips, a Chief Scientist with AIR and the lead author of the report.

Dr. Phillips presented his findings on Thursday, October, 23, 2008 at the annual fall conference of the Council of the Great City Schools in Houston, Texas. He served as the acting commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) within the U.S. Department of Education from 1999 – 2002, and is nationally known for his expertise in large-scale assessments and complex surveys.

The study found that students in grades 4 and 8 from Austin, Boston, Charlotte, Houston, New York and San Diego performed better or on par with their peers in other countries. Students from Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, the District of Columbia and Los Angeles performed below the international average.

When comparing students who are “proficient” on two math benchmarks, the United States places higher than the international average at grade 4 and grade 8. However, the nation’s performance overall was significantly lower than that for Singapore, Hong Kong, Taipei, Japan and the Flemish portion of Belgium at grade 4; for grade 8, the nation’s students also had fallen behind the Republic of Korea, the Netherlands and Hungary.

“Large urban cities are intimately connected to the nations of the world,” said Dr. Phillips. “Large international corporations locate their businesses in our cities, foreign students attend our schools and our own businesses export goods and services to foreign nations. Large urban cities need to know how their students stack up against their peers in the nations with which we do business.”

To view the complete study, click here.
Source: The American Institutes for Research

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