A Report Card on School Choice

Paul Peterson
Year of publication: 

The problems in American education are endemic. For example, compare math and science performance by students in the United States with that in other countries. The Third International Mathematics and Science Study ("TIMSS"), reporting on tests administered in 1995 to half a million students in forty-one countries, compares the math performance of U.S. students in fourth, eighth, and twelfth grades with that of students abroad. Math tests are thought to be especially good indicators of school effectiveness, because math, unlike reading and language skills, is learned mainly in school. On the math tests, U.S. fourth graders scored passably well. 1 The math test scores of U.S. eighth graders were another matter: the United States ranked below its major industrial peers. By the twelfth grade, the United States was all but last among all the participating countries. 2 The longer U.S. students remain in school, it seems, the further behind they fall.