Wednesday, October 9, 2013

We're number 17! Woo hoo!


A recent article from the Associated Press reported on an international test of adults to determine competencies in literacy, math, and problem solving.  The results?  U.S. adults score below average in all categories: 17th in problem solving, 16th in reading skills, and 21st in math skills.

The test, conducted by the auspicious sounding "Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies" found a few things I would expect, but some I would not.  We've always known that Japan has placed a premium on rigorous education, so it's no surprise that their adults are #1 in all three categories.  But watch out for those Finns!  Finland is #2 in all of them.   Paavo Nurmi would be proud!  And the Aussies clobber us in all three categories as well, although we're a bit closer to them in math.

The results tend to mirror regular tests of schoolchildren from around the world that show American kids are way behind our international competitors in all these areas as well.  What this reveals is that we don't get any better with age.

This doesn't indicate decline or a national crisis, but it might serve as a bit of a corrective to the narcissistic self-confidence that we are the brightest people in the world.  We may be the most powerful nation (China might debate us on that, and foreclose on us if they don't like our answers!), but at least when it comes to school-learning, we are not (the smartest!