Americans took note when Bill Gates said last spring that American schools needed to beef up science and math standards if the country was going to maintain a competitive edge in the new century. So did Congress, which last week approved legislation called the America COMPETES (Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education and Science) Act, which carves out a whopping $43.6 billion for science education and research.
So why did the federal government quietly decide last year to drop out of an international study that would compare U.S. high-school students who take advanced science and math courses with their international counterparts?
The study, called TIMSS (Trends in Mathematics and Science Study) Advanced 2008, measures how high-school seniors are doing in algebra, geometry, calculus and physics with students taking similar subjects around the globe. In the past, the American results have been shockingly poor. In the last survey, taken in 1995, students from only two countries—Cyprus and South Africa—scored lower than U.S. school kids.
Joanne has more.