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A Shocking Fact

First of all, a couple of quick questions: which country has the largest economy in the world? Which country is the richest? And which country has the best education system?

If the answer is the United States, you are essentially correct. America ranks no.1 by GDP, takes the lead in the education system (by US News), and occupies the 7th spot in GDP per capita. However, when it comes to secondary education scorecards, the numbers do not look that great.

On average, a 15-year-old American would rank 13th in reading and 17th in science among a group of 78 peers, each representing a different country. Well, this is not ideal but still not too bad. What is shocking, however, is that the American student only comes in at 37th when it comes to math, with a score below the average of the group (source: Programme for International Student Assessment 2018 result).

While the US economy (by GDP) almost doubled from 2000 to 2018, the academic performance of 15-year-old students stagnated: today’s 15-year-olds did no better in reading and science than those 18 years ago and even slipped in math, as measured by the same PISA 2018 study.

The fact is shocking. But more importantly, what are the reasons for the poor performance?

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