A new study says the U.S. is falling further behind the rest of the world in math education.
The survey from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development ranks the U.S. 28th in science, 36th in math and 24th in reading. That math ranking is below average for the 65 countries in the survey.
As the OECD notes, the US spends more than most countries on education — more than $115,000 per student — but its performance remains on par with countries that spend far less. The Slovak Republic, for example, spends about $53,000 per student, but performs at the same level as the US. China (Shanghai) and Singapore were among the top performers in math and science, joining Hong Kong, Japan, and Finland. East Asian countries performed strongest overall, holding seven of the top ten positions across all three categories.
PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) is unique in that it assesses a student’s ability to apply knowledge to real-world problems, rather than the breadth of their knowledge itself. When it comes to math, American students showed particular difficulty with geometric reasoning and applying classroom principles to real-world situations.
“Students in the United States have particular weaknesses in performing mathematics tasks with higher cognitive demands, such as taking real-world situations, translating them into mathematical terms, and interpreting mathematical aspects in real-world problems,” the OECD writes in the US country note.