Education Week reports that a new set of dismal international comparisons--of millenials, this time--is coming out next week. I can't tell whether the test is good, but, then again, I'd just as soon U.S. high school graduates not score lower than high school graduates in every country except France no matter how possibly lousy the test.
Here are 3 sample math questions.
Down the rabbit hole:
It's far from the first study to suggest American students are falling behind their international peers. But the analysis of U.S. millennials—those born after 1980, ages 16 to 34 during the study—specifically highlights that the skills gap goes beyond young people who are typically seen as more "at-risk," like immigrants and high school dropouts.
The ETS study, to be released this week, compares millennials in 22 industrialized countries, including the United States, who took part in the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies, or PIAAC, in 2012, the last time it was given. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which runs the school-based Program for International Student Assessment, also runs the PIAAC, which is given directly to adults in their homes. Unlike the PISA, which measures academic content skills, the PIAAC measures practical, career-oriented literacy and numeracy skills, and, as of 2012, "problem-solving in technology-rich environments."
Across the board, young Americans fared poorly compared to those in the other countries studied. They tied for last, with Italy and Spain, in math skills. In problem-solving, they again performed at the bottom of the pack, with Ireland, Poland, and the Slovak Republic. U.S. millennials also had lower literacy scores than peers in 15 out of 22 countries, tied with a few, and outperformed only peers in Italy and Spain.
. . . the skills gaps persisted among students who are least likely to be considered academically at risk. Those who performed in the top 10 percent of all Americans in their age group still performed worse than the top performers in 15 other countries, including Germany and the Republic of Korea.
While a higher proportion of U.S. millennials versus those in other countries had earned a college degree, those with a four-year degree in the United States still showed lower math skills than those with college degrees in any country studied but Poland and Spain.* Moreover, the percentages of Americans who demonstrated the lowest-level math skills increased from 2003 to 2012, regardless of what level of education they had achieved.
Even those with a master's or doctoral degree demonstrated lower numeracy skills than their counterparts in all but a few countries. The average U.S. math score for millennials with a postbaccalaureate degree, 308, was not only below the average for countries studied who are in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, but was below the average score for young adults with just a bachelor's degree in several countries, and near the score for top-performing students with less than a bachelor's degree in a few countries.
American millennials with a high school diploma or less performed lower than those with a secondary credential in every country but France.
. . . in the United States, native-born millennials showed a greater decline in skills from the 2003 to 2012 cohorts than did their immigrant peers.
Racial and ethnic performance gaps continued, with 12 percent of white and Asian young adults in America showing advanced levels of math skill, versus only 3 percent of Hispanic and 1 percent of black millennials. Yet on average, OECD countries had about 15 percent of all millennials performing at an advanced level, and white and Asian students in the United States performed below their counterparts in most other countries studied.
From the department of unintentional irony:
While a higher proportion of U.S. millennials versus those in other countries had earned a college degree, those with a four-year degree in the United States still showed lower math skills than those with college degrees in any country studied but Poland and Spain.If a higher proportion of U.S. millennials finish college, then you would expect college-educated U.S. millennials as a group to have a lower average math score than college-educated millennials elsewhere. [Copy edit courtesy of Glen]
I wonder how the numeracy skills of U.S. education reporters stack up compared to those of education reporters in France and Spain.