Is your child ready to compete globally?

Educational Olympics: Can your child compete globally?

Private or public, which one to choose? What can we do to help our children succeed in school? These have always been discussion topics at our family's dinner table. After I traveled to all continents and visited K-12 schools in 89 different countries, I asked myself how ready my daughter really is to compete in this world?

Who will your children be competing against for future jobs?

Read the statistics published by the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) and decide for yourself: 

* Today, 53 million American children are in grades K-12 versus 211 million in India and 200 million in China.

* PISA tested students in 71 countries, of which 35 countries are considered industrialized nations. The assessment measured students’ reading, math, and science abilities.

* Among the 35 advanced industrialized nations, American students ranked 17th in reading, 21st in science, and 26th in math. Based on the same assessment, students in Singapore outscored every other school system in the world.

* Other top-performing countries were: Hong Kong, Japan, Finland, Estonia, China, Slovenia, Taiwan, South Korea, Switzerland, and Canada. The highest performing state in the US was Massachusetts.

* There is only one category in which the US students ranked number 1: self-confidence in their academic skills.

* Even the top students in the United States are behind – for example two years behind Shanghai.

* America is particularly struggling at math. One in four US students did not reach the PISA baseline level 2 of mathematics proficiency. At this level, “students begin to demonstrate the skills that will enable them to participate effectively and productively in life,” according to the PISA report.

* With 180 teaching days, we have the shortest school year. South Korea, for example, has 220 school days.

* The average class size in Swedish elementary schools is 9 students vs. 22 students per class in the US.

* American students, not engaged in any educational activity over the summer, lose skills equivalent of 2.6 months of grade level.

* This summer learning loss of 2 to 3 months in elementary grades compounds to a gap of 12 to 18 months by the end of 6th grade. By middle school, the loss adds up to 2 or more years. By comparison, many foreign countries have a year-round program in place.

* The daily average that college-bound students spend on homework:
       a. USA: 1 hour, none on Fridays and weekends
       b. India: 3.5 hours, 6 days per week
       c. China: 4 hours, 7 days per week

* Nearly 40% of US high school students do not take any science class more challenging than general biology. High school students in Europe take four years of biology, four years of chemistry, and four years of physics. That is all three subjects, every year.

* The high school graduation rate is 97% in Germany and 93% in Great Britain and Japan, while it stands at 77% in the US.

* Calculus is a mandatory class for every 10th grader in Europe, India, and China. At the same time, 70% of parents in America think that their children do not need to take Calculus classes in high school.

* The average American student spends about 900 hours in the classroom and 1,500 hours in front of TV each year.

* If an American student is engaged in sports, practice consumes approximately 20 hours per week. No other country offers pre-professional sports training in school. Students around the world receive only regular Physical Ed classes a few hours per week.

* Many European countries graduate high school students after 13 years instead of 12.

* Close to half of American students enter college under-prepared in essential skills such as writing and math.

* About 600,000 engineers graduate in China every year in comparison to 60,000 in the US.

* Nearly 60% of Ph.D. degrees in the USA are earned by foreign nationals. Many of them continue to pursue careers in their home countries.

How seriously should we take these findings?

Separate study found that PISA scores are an economic indicator: rising scores are a good sign that a country’s economy will grow as well.

Therefore, in this global economy and competitive workforce, the American students will be required to do much better!


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