According to a 2012 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) Americans are slipping in readiness. Math is on the decline and they are not doing much better in reading or science. The trend is concerning as American students are not preparing to take over highly skilled, technologically advanced and scientific oriented positions in an increasingly difficult and complex world. As intellectual capital declines so does a nations future opportunities.
Americans dropped to the 26th slot in math, 21st slot in science, and the 17th slot in reading. The report indicates that nearly 15% of the variance in U.S. students is due to socio-economic issues that include motivation and interest. Students in the country simply view math and hard science as difficult or uninteresting. They do not choose these fields as their occupational approach.
Asian countries are on the rise. China appears to be doing well. Even though American students have not slipped much they have stayed relatively the same despite the increase in scores of other countries. This means their overall performance has stagnated and could possibly start to decline at some point in the future. Asian countries appear to be picking up the pace and moving ahead.
Some should find the report results frightening and start looking toward the root causes. They are deeper than simply “lazy students” but move into a range of topics that include family, beliefs, internal/external motivation, educational approaches, innovation, leadership, income, and many others. Similar reports on high school education indicate the system isn’t working well for the low performing students or the highest capability students. It functions in part for a percentage of those in the average categories.
Solutions are not as simple as people think but may have something to do with how Americans view themselves and their need to focus again on growing a country with basic root value systems that fosters personal and professional growth. This is an everyone is invited type of approach regardless of their racial, religious, ethnic, or language background. Perhaps our biggest failure is the failure to free our minds to the possibilities of a brighter tomorrow?