How U.S. Students are Competing on the World Stage
The United States has many resources both natural and human but a recent study indicates that our children - teenagers - are near the back of the international pack when it comes to their reading skills and knowledge of math and science.
You might be asking yourself, what does this have to do with the F.E.S.T. Feature?
First, our children who have gone to college, spent years studying and accumulated piles of student loans, are not finding many job opportunities after they graduate. Unemployment figures for 18-23 year olds range from 20-50%, depending what article you read, and this doesn't include students who are working as unpaid interns to gain work experience.
Secondly, today's strongest growth industries are biomedicine, healthcare and information technology. What's going to happen to the teenage American generation if they don't focus on math and science in high school or pick the right major in college?
The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development conducted a survey from 2009 to 2010 of half a million 15-year-old students from 65 economies. According to the results, the OECD reported that Korea and Finland topped the reading literacy category, followed by Hong Kong, Singapore, Canada, New Zealand and Japan.
This was the first try for the province of Shanghai which not only scored higher in reading than any other country but also came out on top in math and science. The study showed that 25% of Shanghai's 15 year-olds showed advanced mathematical skills compared to the OECD's average of 3%.
And where did the American students land? In math and science they placed near the bottom quartile of the whole group, which completely blows up the notion that wealthier countries have better education systems that the poorer ones.
An article last week in Fortune Magazine, is an interview of former Intel CEO Craig Barrett, who is a big education advocate. During the interview he explains that the quality of education is based on three things:
- The quality of teachers
- The level of expectations set by teachers and community
- The system of feedback to help struggling students, teachers, and payment for performance
The bottom line is, for the U.S. to compete over the next generation, the federal and state governments have to understand that our educational focus and expectation levels have to make the grade in order to keep up with the rest of the world. If we can’t compete, then employment will suffer and so will personal income levels.