- 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.

- In national assessments of mathematics and science learning, students are performing as well as-if not better than-the students of 25 years ago. Nine-year-olds and 13-year-olds scored
higher on mathematics and science tests in 1996 than they did in 1973, while performance of 17-year-olds has remained about the same. However, little of the overall improvement in test scores that occurred during this period has come about during the
1990s.

- There is little evidence of a difference in the mathematics and science proficiency of girls compared with boys on national assessments of educational progress. The slight
difference that has been identified is confined to students in the 12th grade.

- As of 1996, large differences remain at all grade levels in the achievement scores of black and Hispanic students as compared with whites and Asians/Pacific Islanders. Native American students generally scored closer to the national average than did blacks or Hispanics.

- 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.

- The vast majority of elementary school teachers earn college degrees in education rather than in specific disciplinary areas. High school teachers were much more likely to possess science and mathematics degrees: 41
percent had earned a degree in mathematics, compared with just 7 percent of middle school teachers. In science, 63 percent of high school science teachers and 17 percent of middle school science teachers possessed a science degree.

- Many middle school mathematics and science teachers fall short in meeting recommendations for coursework preparation made by national associations of teachers. Only 7 percent of middle school mathematics teachers
have taken courses in all of the recommended areas and about one-third have completed none of the coursework recommendations. Forty-two percent of middle school science teachers meet the science recommendations in full.

- All too frequently, teachers are assigned to teach classes outside their fields. The problem is particularly acute in mathematics. In the 1990/91 school year, 27 percent of students in grades 7 through 12 had a mathematics teacher without at least a minor in mathematics or mathematics education. Out-of-field teaching is more common at middle schools than high schools.

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