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rlogan

U.S. Millennials score at the bottom of the OECD

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More than anything else, we are concerned about educating our kids. We are in a country that is now at the very bottom of the developed countries. The most recent test comparing U.S. millenials (born after 1980) against their peers in the OECD is described in this report:

http://www.ets.org/s/research/30079/millennials.html

The USA was dead last in math. Tied for last in problem solving with technology. Near the bottom in literacy. Sometimes it helps to see it graphically so:

numeracy_zpshuo9twgo.png

The biggest surprise in this test was that this generation, supposedly so technology literate, also tied for last place in using technology to solve problems. They scored lower than their elders in the USA, and they scored lower than their peers in the developed world.

The incredible thing about this appalling performance is that this generation has the most education in US history - the largest proportion of high school graduates and college attendance in our history. We also spend more than any other country - 63% more than the average OECD country.

But it is the first time in US history that literacy FELL. That's right: despite more education, and despite spending more than any other country - our literacy skills are falling.

There are a number of other tests, like the PISA test that has a wider set of countries and regions on it, and the USA does better than places like Saudi Arabia or Yemen but scores badly against other developed nations. All the top scorers, through the first five anyway on the PISA test are East Asian. Finland generally scores high but Shanghai has been crushing these tests for years now. Their kids, by the time they graduate, are four years ahead of ours in math. Asian-Americans are by far the highest scoring group in the USA too. In terms of individual states, Massachusetts is our best state, and scores almost as high as Asian-Americans on tests.

If you look at the above test results, the Millenials scored the lowest in the OECD on math at 255, but the 16-24 year old cohort did even worse at 249. So the newest reforms we have had like No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top (hahahahaha!) are abysmal failures. Common Core is the current fashion, but I doubt seriously it gets at the root of the problem, which is that we have an anti-intellectual culture with the exception of certain demographic groups like Asian Americans and places like Massachusetts.

Naturally, because we live in an anti-intellectual culture, you'll year all kinds of excuse-making about this or why it doesn't matter, but if you are a parent that cares about your children's futures then you need to be very concerned about just leaving their education up to the school system. This particular test is aimed at skills necessary for decent paying jobs in the global economy. That is why they developed the test. One thing that has happened is that our degrees are no longer worth the paper they are printed on. A high school diploma meant something in the past, but now we are granting diplomas to kids that can't even read at the 5th grade level. If you look at the worst school districts in the USA, they have 0% testing at grade level, yet they still get high school diplomas.

We are emphatic with our kids that they can't look at the children around them as their standard. They have to be years ahead of their peers. It isn't much of a challenge to blow their US peers out of the water. But the competition from the top international programs is pretty stiff. What you can do as a parent is start giving a . Just caring about it changes everything. Once you start caring then you take action. Every family has unique circumstances and what works best for one isn't going to work for someone else. But you need to be involved. Our feeling is that the school board, trying to establish charter schools, lobbying the legislature, etc. isn't anywhere near as productive as just working directly with your kids. Light up a big fattie, pop a beer and watch a movie together. lol. Not.

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anyone send their kid to a public school where kids actually get held back if they didn't do well? when i went to school, if you failed - you actually failed. maybe that's just the school district i'm working with, but i doubt it.

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I thought "millennial" had two L's and two N's. (Sorry, couldn't resist in a thread like this. :P )

I do agree about the pervasive anti-intellectualism of mainstream culture. I was raised in a household where learning was part of everyday life, and where we kids were actively encouraged to develop intellectual pursuits outside of the classroom. I was a greedy and voracious reader, and I can't recall any book or newspaper being off-limits to me. I read things I couldn't really understand, but I asked a ton of questions and my parents answered them honestly. I wasn't pushed to do anything if I wasn't interested, but by having an open atmosphere at home there were so many things I could be interested in. I also had parents who sacrificed a lot to move my brother and me from public to private school, and I am eternally grateful for this.

However, I don't see testing as the be-all and end-all. I'm great at standardized tests. So does my SAT score reflect my intellectual ability, my ability to take standardized tests or both? The measurement of intellect and intellectualism to me seems a qualitative pursuit that may or may not be capable of quantification in any completely meaningful way.

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No, I appreciate spelling corrections. Millennial. Being too egotistical to accept corrections is fundamentally anti-intellectual.

There was a Pulitzer prize book written in 1960 titled "Anti-Intellectualism in American Life" and a number of books since then that demonstrate it has gotten worse. People who are from a culture generally believe their culture has it right. So a lot of Americans bristle at their culture being called anti-intellectual. But all you have to do is look at how we represent them in our media - the negative stereotype pejoratives of "nerd, geek, or egghead" - incapable of getting a date; social losers.

Intellectuals are the stupidest people on a program, especially ones about school.

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Actually "geek", "nerd" fashion is very hot at the moment, and I think you will find all the male "eggheads" are getting the hot dates. Take a look around Silicone Valley . IT geeks are hot property.

Get with it!

The post college world is very different from the K-12 culture and this is extremely important for parents and young kids to understand.

Comparing these top Asian countries and the USA is day vs. night. They do not have pejorative terms for intellectuals like we do, and they approach their academics much like we approach sports. They do things like closing businesses or the stock market on the morning of exam day, the underclassmen line up to cheer the seniors as they enter the building for the exams - like we do for the football players at homecoming. Students that do well are held in high esteem by both other students and the parents in exactly the same way football stars and basketball stars are here. They don't have the sports emphasis we do. They emphasize academics.

Their so-called "cram schools" are criticized by us for putting too much pressure on the poor fragile teenagers. We in the meantime send millions a year to hospitals with injuries and leave dozens on the field of sports battle dead. 1.35 million of these injuries were serious enough to require trips to the emergency room. 12% of these were concussions. So while we pretend to care about those poor Asians having to study so much, we don't think anything of knocking ours out cold.

In the USA it is college and post-graduate school where the vastly superior income for PhD's in STEM(science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields finally outweighs the negative stereotyping seen in the K-12 schools. And who is going to our colleges? A lot more foreigners now. They are over one-third of our college body now, and are disproportionately in STEM and business fields.

These countries have risen from GDP's per capita in the mere hundreds of dollars per year into the high thousands in my lifetime. We used to sneer at "made in Japan" as a symbol of cheap, shoddy products when I was young. Then Taiwan. Then China. China has passed us in GDP already and at current rates will be twice as large as us in 19 years. We no longer lead the world in patents applied for, patents granted in absolute terms or in terms of per capita or per GDP. Those are now China, Japan, and Korea.

Nobody says "testing is everything". But anyone sneering at the importance of education is a fool, and we have to measure it somehow. That is why we test. Not because tests are somehow innately important, but you have to see if people can actually add, subtract, multiply, and divide, etc. in order to see if our educational system is actually working. The other measures that the USA used to lead in like GDP, innovation patents, etc. have also fallen.

About the only things we are #1 in now is jailing our own citizens, weapons manufacture, and wars. That isn't a joke. That's fact.

Edited by rlogan

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As a matter of fact "baseball stars" , "English football stars" are held in very great esteem at jhs and HS! (In Japan)

As for testing? Sure, cram schools here in Japan teach you exam technique, how to pass a test etc. but does it raise children capable of independent critical thought??

Edited by Jacque67

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It's not fair for some kids to get A's and other F's. So let's just give them all A's. Every child is created equally :rofl:

I believe this is the root of the problem.

Val erie made the same point, and there is no question this is a core problem.

Look at the legislative language of "No Child Left Behind" - as if it were everyone else's fault if even ONE child doesn't pass. We have been doing "social promotion" for decades anyway but the problem is getting worse.

Massachusetts raised its standards back in the 1990's. You can't even get out of 8th grade without taking algebra, whereas millions of high school students elsewhere can get their high school degree without ever having taken algebra. As a consequence, Massachusetts has the best school system in the country. You don't hear them whining about test scores being the wrong thing to look at. Because they are kicking everyone else's ###. And they did that with a conscious plan to set world-class educational standards.

We hear people saying funding is the problem when we spend more than all the other OECD countries.

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Val erie made the same point, and there is no question this is a core problem.

Look at the legislative language of "No Child Left Behind" - as if it were everyone else's fault if even ONE child doesn't pass. We have been doing "social promotion" for decades anyway but the problem is getting worse.

Massachusetts raised its standards back in the 1990's. You can't even get out of 8th grade without taking algebra, whereas millions of high school students elsewhere can get their high school degree without ever having taken algebra. As a consequence, Massachusetts has the best school system in the country. You don't hear them whining about test scores being the wrong thing to look at. Because they are kicking everyone else's ###. And they did that with a conscious plan to set world-class educational standards.

We hear people saying funding is the problem when we spend more than all the other OECD countries.

Since I do not have children , I don't really follow some of the new trends in teaching. However, recently my sister said that in her children's grade school they will not be giving out grades till the 7th grade(if I remember correctly). Everyone is the same. It seems to me this is more about making sure nobody gets their feeling hurt rather than any actual learning.

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As for testing? Sure, cram schools here in Japan teach you exam technique, how to pass a test etc. but does it raise children capable of independent critical thought??

lol. Are American schools teaching independent and critical thought?

You didn't read the study of course. If you did, this wouldn't be a comment (rhetorical question) that you would make. It is one of those memes Americans have learned to use against people that out-work them educationally.

We've seen all the excuses, the whining, the rationalization and even the social pressure to keep our kids at the back of the pack. But we've decided that we are going to work every day at it instead. Seven days a week, all year. And what that has done for us is produce children capable of independent and critical thought at very young ages.

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lol. Are American schools teaching independent and critical thought?

You didn't read the study of course. If you did, this wouldn't be a comment (rhetorical question) that you would make. It is one of those memes Americans have learned to use against people that out-work them educationally.

We've seen all the excuses, the whining, the rationalization and even the social pressure to keep our kids at the back of the pack. But we've decided that we are going to work every day at it instead. Seven days a week, all year. And what that has done for us is produce children capable of independent and critical thought at very young ages.

How presumptuous , but I expect little else...

I can only assume you have no first hand experience of the Japanese education system ... I could even accuse you of racism trying to spread the threat of the Yellow Peril , if I so chose.

Comparisons are odious as they say...

Edited by Jacque67

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Since I do not have children , I don't really follow some of the new trends in teaching. However, recently my sister said that in her children's grade school they will not be giving out grades till the 7th grade(if I remember correctly). Everyone is the same. It seems to me this is more about making sure nobody gets their feeling hurt rather than any actual learning.

The most recent education initiative is called "Common Core". It is controversial, and our suspicions kept increasing as we tried to read more about what it claimed itself to be. If you can't explain something to an intelligent person in a few paragraphs then there is something wrong.

We kept pawing through endless word salad about making our kids prepared for working in a global 21st century environment and mountains of ####### about how it was a grass-roots effort, led by the State Governor's Association, blah blah blah - endless political piffle with self-contradictory statements. It was supposed to raise standards nationally, but don't worry because all the states will do whatever they want so there's no standards being raised nationally folks. :wacko:

One thing that really bothered me as a researcher was that the standards were being implemented without field testing. (Field testing it as it was being implemented). We also saw that instead of being higher standards where you merely shift everyone up half-a grade level or whatever that instead entirely new pedagogy was being introduced - like new ways of doing math. So instead of saying we are going to introduce multiplication or division earlier they are changing the way multiplication and division are being taught and tested. Getting the right answer isn't enough, and you can't get there more than one way. The curriculum and textbook industries are going to make a lot of money out of this. If you just gave the second grade math book to the first grade students, nobody in this industry would make money.

I am going to admit that I just gave up reading about it. It's way simpler to teach reading, writing, and math to your kids than to understand all of the intrigue going on with common core.

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How presumptuous , but I expect little else...

I can only assume you have no first hand experience of the Japanese education system ... I could even accuse you of racism trying to spread the threat of the Yellow Peril , if I so chose.

Comparisons are odious as they say...

I noticed you didn't read the study. Instead thinking a couple of anecdotes would pass for rigorous discussion.

We did quite a bit of study on the Japanese educational system, absolutely. I studied Judo in Japan 30 years ago and earned my black belt, so I wasn't exactly starting from scratch. If you would like to learn about professional studies comparing the two, we'd love to bring you up to speed on it. Try this for example:

http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ781668.pdf

We have a bibliography of six different studies, but this is a pretty good general overview.

One of the most distinctive differences is the entrance examinations the Japanese students have to take. Employment and university acceptance depend very much on these so they study really hard for them. Another difference is the obligation of Japanese home room teachers to meet with the parents in their homes and speak with the parents directly about the students' strengths and weaknesses. Parental involvement is strongly associated with student success. They have a longer trimester system instead of a two-semester system with a long summer break.

Japanese teachers are held in high esteem, paid better relatively speaking than their American counterparts, and also better educated - especially in their areas of direct teaching. They also teach moral instruction and character building We have the expression "Those who can, do; those who can't teach". Such a thing would never be said about a Japanese teacher.

Japan also focuses more on mathematics, science, and technology whereas the USA claims to have a "broader" base in humanities and lots of fluff classes the football players can take so they don't have to study much.

One of the things we found most interesting is that while the USA is moving towards a more nation-based system of standards, the Japanese are moving away from it. Anyone who knows a wee bit about Japanese culture understands their nationalism, the uniforms at school and other elements of their ancient conformity-based culture. But I think that the real difference is in the Japanese culture demanding that they be the very best in the world and both families and students being motivated to achieve it.

It is only in select sub-cultures of the USA where you hear this kind of drive. But anyway if you would like to learn more about the differences between Japanese and US educational systems, we'd be happy to point out some more literature for you. That's the great thing about being a scholar - you can learn by reading authoritative material instead of listening to a couple of anecdotes from someone who want to try putting one over on you just because they are there.

Sure, they love baseball and "football" (what we call soccer) second as sports. But there is an enormous difference in the academic rigor of the Japanese system that puts their average high school graduate on par with American students that have two years of college.

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