Concerning our hapless American kids!


They outscore miraculous Finland:
Last year, students from the developed nations took part in both of the world's major international testing programs.

We refer to The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (Timss), which is administered on a four-year cycle, and to The Program for International Student Assessment (Pisa), which is administered every three years.

Results from the 2015 Pirls are now available. Yesterday, the Washington Post offered this striking report about the new scores in its hard-copy editions. The New York Times has posted this AP report on-line, but has so far ignored these new results in its hard-copy editions.

We'll review the news reports at the end of the week. For today, we'll post some of the new results and link to the rest of the data.

The Timss tests students in Grade 4 and Grade 8 in both science and math. A larger number of nations take part at the Grade 4 level, so we'll show you those results. (We'll post links to Grade 8 scores below.)

Below, you see selected average scores in Grade 4 math. We're including the three Asian tigers and other large nations. We're also including miraculous Finland, star of our upper-end press.

We've "disaggregated" American scores to help bring our challenges into focus. You'll note that, in the aggregate, American kids (slightly) outperformed their peers from miraculous Finland:
Average scores, Grade 4 math, 2015 Timss
South Korea: 608
United States, Asian-American students: 605
Taiwan: 597
Japan: 593
Russia: 564
United States, white students: 559
England: 546
United States: 539
Finland: 535
Poland: 535
Germany: 522
Australia: 517
United States, Hispanic students: 515
Canada: 511
Italy: 507
Spain: 505
United States, black students: 495
France: 488
It's hard to reconcile those scores with the press corps' standard gloom-and-doom about our ratty American schools with their fiendish teachers unions and their hapless students.

Those scores don't seem to support those scripts. That said, American performance may have been somewhat better in Grade 4 science:
Average scores, Grade 4 science, 2015 Timss
United States, Asian-American students: 598
South Korea: 589
United States, white students: 570
Japan: 569
Russia: 567
Taiwan: 555
Finland: 554
Poland: 547
United States: 546
England: 536
Germany: 528
Canada: 525
Australia: 524
United States, Hispanic students: 518
Spain: 518
Italy: 516
United States, black students: 501
France: 487
Uh-oh! In Grade 4 science, Asian-American kids outscored the rest of the world! White kids outscored two of the three Asian tigers, trailing South Korea.

These test scores are hard to reconcile with preferred elite narratives—narratives which have been drummed into everyone's heads down through the many long years.

That said, those narratives form one part of the scripted "fake news" our big newspapers support and adore. Our newspapers love their own fake news. They just hate it from everyone else!

At the end of the week, we'll examine the way these test results have been reported in the American press. Of one thing you can be fairly certain; we liberals won't hear a word about this on our own "cable news" channel.

The stars of our own cable shows prefer to offer entertainment and suitable tribal porridge. Lawrence discusses the needs of children in Malawi, as he very much should. Our own students and teachers go undiscussed. They simply don't matter to our stars, with their well-schooled corporate minds.

Those test scores show the achievement gaps which lie at the heart of our public school challenge. As far as MSNBC is concerned, the kids on the short end of those gaps can just go play in traffic. On our fiery liberal channel, those kids' interests don't count.

(Unless someone gets shot and killed by a policeman. At such times, we'll invent false facts about the shooting. It's our way of showing we care.)

Why won't we hear about these scores, or about those gaps, on our cable channel? The suits don't think that Those Children produce good ratings. Given the very large sums at stake, our big stars do as they're told.

Lawrence discusses Malawi each year. This makes us liberals feel good.

For full data at both grade levels: Relative American performance is roughly the same at the Grade 8 level. It's just that more nations participate at the Grade 4 level.

(The Pisa tests 15-year-old students. For students in this general age range, some nations settle for that.)

For other Grade 4 scores and for Grade 8 scores, you should start by clicking here.

At that point, you're on your own. Everything we've posted is there.


  1. These scores are important because they will provide a baseline that we can compare against after 4 years of Trump's new Education Secretary and her assault on public schools.

    1. Let us hope that before any significant changes are made these scores will be made public via a responsible journalistic source and broadcast far and wide to counter the propaganda promoted by the privatization faction.


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  2. "fiery liberal channel"


  3. This would be a good disaggregation: United States, white students whose parents voted for Hillary; United States, white students whose parents voted for Mr Trump.

  4. Our hapless kids lead miraculous Finland. We lead the world in belief in miraculous entities known as angels. We lead the world in number of billionaires and number of people in prison. Our hapless government leads the world in number of chief executives who finish second in elections. All these things are related.

  5. I just saw the movie "Moonlight". It's amazing and wonderful. It depicts the growth of a boy living in Liberty City, "Miami's Ghetto".

    This movie reminded me of how inadequate it is to break down education statistics by race. The black children living in this area have little in common with middle class blacks. It's misleading to put them in the same category.

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