More on International School Comparisons by Bob Somerby of Daily Howler

Here is the Howler’s Part 2 analyzing the results of the latest TIMMS and PIRLS international comparisons of 4th and 8th grade students. He makes the point that over and over again, US newspapers and editorial staff keep complaining about how poorly American students do in these international rankings, when the facts are exactly the opposite.

A quote:

Nations outscored in reading by U.S. fourth-graders, 2011 PIRLS (partial list):
Denmark, Croatia, Taiwan, Ireland, England, Canada, Netherlands, Czech Republic, Sweden, Italy, Germany, Israel, Portugal, Hungary, Slovak Republic, New Zealand, Slovenia, Austria, Lithuania, Australia, Poland, France, Spain, Norway, Belgium (Flemish region)

Really? American fourth-graders outscored their peers in England, Canada, Germany, France? In Australia, Spain, Italy and Taiwan—and in a host of smaller European nations? 

Would a reader gain any idea of this fact from reading this gloomy AP report? Would that reader ever guess that U.S. fourth-graders were outscored by their peers in only three actual nations, plus Hong Kong and Northern Ireland, even as they kicked the keisters of fourth-graders spanning the globe?

and here is his first article in the series:

Here he presents duelling headlines from different newspapers:

Gloomy headlines about the new scores:
Associated Press, December 11: US students far from first in math, science
New York Times, December 11: U.S. Students Still Lag Globally In Math and Science, Tests Show
Washington Post, December 11: U.S. still trails Asia in student test scores


Upbeat headlines about the new scores:
USA Today, December 11: USA’s schools move up in international rankings
Christian Science Monitor, December 11: How does US compare in math, science, reading? 
Younger students do better 
Two international studies show fourth- and eighth-grade scores in math, science, and reading in 2011. In the US, there’s no cause for alarm, or celebration.


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