Education: Bad News About Math

Compared with other students, Americans are at sea with numbers

In the third of the three Rs, American students would seem to have turned around in recent years. Since 1980, standardized math test scores have been tilting upward. The best mathematicians among U.S. collegians have performed strongly. Says University of Michigan Psychologist Harold Stevenson: "Teachers, parents and children all think they are doing just fine."

Not so, say three new studies carried out by Stevenson and by University of Illinois Education Professor Kenneth Travers -- at least in comparison with other countries. U.S. school youngsters, the studies found, rank low among 20-odd nations in mathematical skills from Grades 1 through 12....

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