Elementary and Secondary Education
- In a 1995 international comparative study on mathematics and science achievement, U.S. students performed comparatively better in science than in mathematics and better at the fourth
grade level than at the eighth grade level. U.S. fourth graders were significantly outperformed in science only by students in South Korea. The United States performed least well, when compared with other nations, in grade eight mathematics.
- When compared with other countries, U.S. mathematics and science textbooks contain many more topics and much repetition of material. For example, U.S. general mathematics textbooks for
eighth grade students contain an average of 36 different topics, compared with 8 topics in Japanese and 4.5 topics in German texts. In addition, there is evidence that in the United States, eighth grade mathematics is pitched at a lower level than in
higher achieving countries. While U.S. students are still working on "high-end arithmetic," their peers in other countries are studying algebra and geometry.
Curriculum and Instruction
- There have been large gains in the proportion of students taking advanced mathematics and science courses in high school since the early and mid-1980s-gains that often include students
from underrepresented groups. In the class of 1994, close to 70 percent of students had completed geometry, 58 percent completed algebra 2, and 9 percent took calculus. Over 90 percent of seniors completed biology, over half completed chemistry, and
about one-quarter took physics.
- Internet access in schools has increased substantially in recent years. As of fall 1996, 65 percent of public schools reported access to the Internet, a gain of 30 percentage points over 1994 figures. Internet
access was more likely in secondary than in elementary schools, in more affluent than less affluent schools, and in schools with low to moderate minority enrollments than in schools with high minority enrollments.
Teachers and Teaching
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