Editorial: Where all children are above average
The good news is, Minnesota and North Dakota ranked well in a new study that compares eighth graders’ math and science test scores to the scores in other countries.
As for the bad news -well, there really isn’t much “bad” news in a report in which both North Dakota and Minnesota score high.
So let’s just point to the “challenging” news, which is that a handful of other states do better – and a number of other countries do notably better than that.
“Amid growing alarm over the slipping international competitiveness of American students, a report comparing math and science test scores of eighth graders in individual states to those in other countries has found that a majority outperformed the international average.
“But the report by the National Center for Education Statistics, an office of the Education Department, showed that even in the country’s top-performing states – which include Massachusetts, Vermont and Minnesota – fewer students scored at the highest levels than students in several East Asian countries.”
The study uses scores from the National Assessment of Educational Progress and the Trends in International Mathematics and Sciences Study to develop the rankings.
Among the states, Massachusetts scores highest, adding more weight to the view that other states could learn from the Bay State’s example.
In math, for example, 19 percent of Massachusetts eighth graders scored at the advanced level, compared with 13 percent in Minnesota and 7 percent in North Dakota.
Again, all of those are reasonably good scores compared with national and world averages.
But the real star of the rankings was Singapore, where an astonishing 48 percent of students in that age group scored at the advanced level.
In science, the pattern is similar: The percentage of eighth graders who achieved the advanced level is 24 in Massachusetts, 16 in Minnesota, 13 in North Dakota – and 40 in Singapore.
Here’s one more reason for Minnesotans and North Dakotans to avoid resting on their laurels: “Several industrialized nations, including France, Germany and Denmark, did not participate,” The New York Times reports.
“So,” says Paul Peterson, director of the program on education policy and governance at Harvard, “if you really want to compare the U.S. to the developing world, then we do look good.”
On balance, Minnesota and North Dakota schools have strong foundations, solid results – and room for improvement. All things considered, that’s not a bad place to be.
FORUM NEWS SERVICE