Why Do American Students Rank Below Many of Their International Peers?

Americans are so used to being number one in so many areas that we rarely stop to consider whether this is really true. In the case of education, it definitely isn’t. This has major social and economic implications for the future of the United States.

My passion for this area was partially inspired by a book I read a while back entitled, “The World Is Flat” by Thomas Friedman. The book caused me to consider the changes advances in technology and a global economy would have on our world.  I started looking at things in a more global way and realized that in order to thrive in this new world, the children in our schools right now will have to be the most educated, intelligent and entrepreneurial generation America has ever produced. The problem is that our kids are not on a trajectory to meet that description.

Spending on schools has more than doubled in the last three decades, but increased resources don’t necessarily lead to better results. In terms of education, American students aren’t even in the top 10 in the areas of reading and science.  In terms of math scores, not even in the top 20.  In fact, a fairly recent study ranked U.S. students 14th in reading, 17th in science and 25th in math.

Don’t take my word for it though. The Atlantic put together this cool interactive map that lets you compare how your local schools would match up with peers internationally. Take a look if you dare, but don’t be surprised if your school ranks below 50%.

The good news is there are simple but effective steps we can take in the short term that can make a major difference in the long run. We’ll talk  about a few of these soon.