Sunday, August 24, 2008

US Medals: Olympics =108, Education Olympics =1

Over the last few decades, the United States has trailed other developed (and some developing) nations on international measures that assess student performance in reading, mathematics, and science. The purpose of the Education Olympics is to contrast America’s tepid academic performance with its athletic dominance. While America’s athletes bring home a trove of medals from Beijing, its student competitors are expected to be relatively barren of jewelry (see chart above). We want to ask: What will the United States do to turn around this critical situation?

The data on which the events in the Education Olympics are based come from four main international measures, the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS), the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), and the Civic Education Study (CIVED). There are 58 events, each based on test scores from a section of one of the above exams, except for a handful of events that reflect measures of educational attainment.

MP: The U.S. has won 101 medals this year at the 2008 Summer Olympics, but only a single medal in the 2008 Education Olympics, according to the
Thomas Fordham Institute. The U.S. had the highest 9th grade scores on the CivEd subtest—civic skills. Unfortunately, in the 24 different science and math categories, the U.S. ranked in the top ten only three times, and never ranked higher than 7th place.

5 Comments:

At 8/24/2008 9:25 AM, Blogger Andy said...

The comparison doesn't make sense because the Olympics are given to individuals, but apparently the the "education olympics" are given to some average score. It's certainly plausible that were olympic scores given to the average athlete the US would not win much at all.

 
At 8/24/2008 10:35 AM, Blogger epy0n said...

I'd have to agree with Andy. Scores from science and math Olympiads would make a better comparison.

 
At 8/24/2008 12:05 PM, Anonymous Fred said...

Olympic medals are also given to teams. An above average team wins.

 
At 8/24/2008 1:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The US doesn't need to do anything about this "problem". It needs to make the average students better not make the best students the best in the world.

Winning in the olympics isn't a national boon either. Why do you imply there is something important about it?

Too much rote learning which leads to high scores in competitions is not good. Too much theory with out facts is also not good either . The US needs to find a good comprimise and not worry about winning an artificial competition.

Look at who won the nobel prizes and see how they were educated. That is a good way to decide the best methods of teaching. Do the most nobel prizes come from agemates and compatriots of the winningest students in these competitions. I doubt it.

 
At 8/25/2008 7:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

With all of the America's obese and lazy population, I'm sure if they were all included in the Olympics we'd do pretty badly. Fortunately, we only send the extreme upper edge of our bell curve of physical performance.

I have a feeling if we only counted the extreme upper edge of our bell curve of education, we'd do OK as well.

 

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