New ranking shows US students continue to fall behind

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With America’s emphasis on competition regarding sports, business, politics, and economics, the US is reportedly lagging behind when it comes to education.

Every three years, the Program of International Student Assessment (PISA) tests 15 year olds over their skills in literature, math, and science. Out of 49 countries that took the PISA test in 2009, the US ranked 14th in reading, 17th in science, and 25th in math.

“Although this country likes to state that education is a priority, it is not a fact. Once a student leaves the world of elementary education, academics are no longer emphasized by the government, society, and many families,” said Instructional Practices in Education and Training teacher Terry Tucker.

PISA exempts certain schools from examination and selects random schools and students, so the summary that PISA gives doesn’t reflect on every school in the US and other participating countries. Nevertheless, the summary doesn’t change the fact that the US is trailing behind top countries such as Finland and South Korea.

“Our school systems do not know how to properly handle funding, our teachers aren’t supplied with the best resources, and the majority of the information we learn will never actually relate to real life practices,” said sophomore Jake Gaudet. “We should have the option to work at our own pace. If someone isn’t a strong learner, he or she can justw go slower while those who want to push forward faster have the option to do that.”

A reason for the lag could attribute to No Child Left Behind (NCLB), which holds schools accountable for teaching every student, including the underprivileged or those of minority races. Last year, almost half of US schools failed to reach the standards set by NCLB. This year, President Barack Obama granted waivers to 33 states, relinquishing them of some aspects of NCLB.

“I feel that No Child Left Behind is there for a reason and helps those who are struggling just in classes,” said Gaudet, “but it also allows for some kids to slack off.”

Not only did half of US schools fail federal standards, but so did half of Texas schools. Despite this, Klein High has passed its own standards as well as the ones required by NCLB.

“Klein does a good job of teaching their students. However, it’s our responsibility as students to use the materials taught to us,” said Burgess. “There’s this attitude of ‘If I pass, it doesn’t matter.’ When it comes down to it, our grades are determined by our studies, work habits, and persistence. We need teachers to educate us, but we have to be able to use what we were taught.”