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chalk board with math problems on itIn 2015, more than half a million fifteen year old students in 73 countries or education systems participated in the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) survey.

Our math tutors were disappointed to learn that in this latest round of international testing, U.S. students declined in average math scores and ranked below 36 other countries, while showing no improvement in science or reading. Results showed that Singapore was the top performing country in all three subjects.

Students from the United States scored an average of 470 out of 1,000 possible points on the math section, which included topics such as Algebra, logic problems, and Geometry. The scores were 20 points lower than the international average and 12 points lower than the last test given in 2012. Even further, only six percent of U.S. students scored at the highest possible levels on the math test, trailing behind the international average of 11 percent.

The U.S. reading score was 497, which was about the same as the international average of 493, but remained stagnant compared to all other testing done since 2000. In science, the U.S. average score was 496, which was again comparable to the international average of 493, but the score also hasn’t moved up or down since 2006.

In response to these results, U.S. Education Secretary John King Jr. said, “We’re losing ground – a troubling prospect when, in today’s knowledge-based economy, the best jobs can go anywhere in the world. Students aren’t just vying for great jobs along with their neighbors or across state lines, they must be competitive with peers in Finland, Germany and Japan.”

Despite the United States’ lackluster test results, there were two positive outcomes. Our country narrowed the achievement gap between higher-income students and their low-income peers, and the state of Massachusetts was able to surpass the U.S. and international averages.

Much of the debate around the dip in scores has circled around the Common Core State Standards. Although President-elect Donald Trump has called the standards a “total disaster” and has promised to dismantle them, many other education leaders and professionals believe that it’s too early to determine if Common Core has made a major difference in test scores. Moreover, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) gives states control over their own standards, so regardless of test scores the federal government has little power to interfere.

Muhammed Chaudhry, president and CEO of the Silicon Valley Education Foundation, said he believes that in order for U.S. students to be able to compete globally, schools should “stay the course” in implementing Common Core standards. He also stated that since the more rigorous standards are still not fully implemented, the results do not accurately reflect the impact they’ve had and it will take time for our students to come up to speed.

Our math tutors are credentialed teachers that work one on one with your student to improve academic performance. Whether your student is struggling with advanced algebra and calculus or simply needs a little extra support with homework, REACH Pro Tutoring is always available to help.

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