About every four months, there's some meeting somewhere in the world to discuss the math scores across the globe. Finland always ends up in the top five....for some odd reason. The US? Well, this is what drives the press release....they talk on and on about the lousy US scores, and how we rated number fourteen or number eighteen on the worldwide math scores.
The next week after this....there's some meeting in the US where they bring out this article and the scores....talking up how more money would help to fix the problem. The US needs to lead the world....as we are often told.
Well....this is reality.
Using 2011 data and tests conducted on eighth graders for math, you get this odd picture of American math scores.
In actuality, Massachusetts, Vermont and Minnesota are competing at the level that folks often compare to Finland or the top three countries. New Jersey and Montana both follow....looking extremely good.
Then you come to the bottom five: Louisiana, California, DC, Alabama, and Mississippi. The scores are thirty points less for the most part.
If we just allowed the top five states to compete on the world scale....we'd be in the top three countries in the world. But they won't allow that.....you have to compete....country by country.
What are the top states doing that the bottom states aren't doing? You really can't be sure of anything. The fact that California makes the list is troublesome. For the three southern states....it could just be local conditions where math isn't that important. The books being used? Maybe. The fact is....you just don't know.
What you can predict is that this position of advertising how terrible the US is in math scores will continue, and often be used as a method of pay increases. Someday, math teachers will be making $100k a year. Maybe that will fix the problem, but I doubt it.