Massachusetts Ranks High Globally in Math, Science

Expecting the Best Yields Results in Massachusetts

If Massachusetts were a country, its eighth graders would rank second in the world in science, behind only Singapore, according to Timss — the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, which surveys knowledge and skills of fourth and eighth graders around the world. (The most recent version, in 2011, tested more than 600,000 students in 63 nations.)

Massachusetts eighth graders also did well in mathematics, coming in sixth, behind Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan. The United States as a whole came in 10th in science and 9th in math, with scores that were above the international average.

Massachusetts math scores


Ambitious Goals

“Ed reform” was the Massachusetts Education Reform Act of 1993, passed by a Democratic Legislature and signed by a Republican governor, William F. Weld.

The three core components were more money (mostly to the urban schools), ambitious academic standards and a high-stakes test that students had to pass before collecting their high school diplomas. All students were expected to learn algebra before high school.

Also noteworthy was what the reforms did not include. Parents were not offered vouchers for private schools. The state did not close poorly performing schools, eliminate tenure for teachers or add merit pay. The reforms did allow for some charter schools, but not many.

Then the state, by and large, stayed the course.

Two decades after Massachusetts passed its education reform, there is still much disagreement over what were the crucial components to its success.

Some think it was the added money; others note that successful countries operate schools at much lower costs.


from the New York Times

p.s. Here’s an interesting report from Harvard: U.S. Math Performance in Global Perspective

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