Asian, European Kids ‘Outshine US Children in Science, Math’

WASHINGTON ~ US schoolchildren have improved their performances in mathematics and science in the past decade, but are still outpaced by youngsters in Asia and Europe, a study showed this week.

The math and science scores of US fourth- and eighth-graders – children aged roughly nine and 12 years old – were higher than the average set by The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS).

But fourth-graders in seven Asian and European countries outperformed their American peers in math, while among eighth graders, children in five countries, all Asian, had better scores than the American kids.

In order, the countries whose fourth-graders outperformed US nine-year-olds were Hong Kong, which was considered a country for the purposes of the survey, Singapore, Taiwan, Japan, Kazakhstan, the Russian Federation and England.

In eighth grade, children in Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan outperformed the Americans in math.

In science, the picture was similar: among fourth graders, children in Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan did better than their US peers.

Those countries along with South Korea, England, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovenia and the Russian Federation, also figured in the list where eighth-graders outperformed Americans of the same age-group.

Thirty-six countries took part in the study for fourth graders and 48 for eighth grade. The study has been conducted every four years since 1995.

Among other countries that took part this year at both grade levels in 2007 were Algeria, Bahrain, Colombia, El Salvador, Georgia, Iran, Norway, Scotland, Tunisia and Ukraine.

The tiny African state of Botswana, Cyprus in Europe, and Syria in the Middle East were among countries that took part at eighth grade level only.

Yemen, Slovakia, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Morocco, Kazakhstan, Denmark and Austria took part in the assessment of fourth graders only.

France has not taken part in the test since 1995, when its eight-graders only were assessed and scored higher than their US counterparts in math but lower in science.

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