Secretary Duncan Issues Statement on Release of the U.S. Students’ Rankings on International Assessments of Student Achievement

Washington, D.C.–(ENEWSPF)–August 18, 2009.  Today’s report is another wake-up call that our students are treading the waters of academic achievement while other countries’ students are swimming faster and farther. Our students have stagnated educationally, putting our long-term economic security at risk.

In math, our 15-year-olds’ scores now lag behind those of 31countries. In science, our eighth graders’ scores now lag behind their peers in eight countries that had also participated in the original assessment. In reading, five countries have improved their performance and surpassed our 4th graders.

These results show that for us to stay competitive and move forward we have to get our students ready for global competition. That’s why I so strongly support the work of our governors and chief state school officers to develop a set of common internationally-benchmarked, college and career-ready standards that will help put our students’ performance on par with other top performing countries. We’ve never settled for second best, and now we’re in another race of sorts – a race to the top tier of the world’s students whose academic achievement is the best and the brightest.

As we reach to the top, of course our four tenets of educational reform will help propel us there: putting the best teachers in schools where they’re most needed, closing down chronically under-performing schools and creating better ones, data systems that track students from the cradle to college and link student results back to teachers, and world-class standards to help states build their reforms.

Forty-nine states and territories have joined the Common Core State Standards Initiative. This shows that we’re together on this. It’s been said that education is a local and state responsibility but a national priority. This report shows improving education is critical to our children’s global competitiveness and key to our nation’s economic recovery. We’ve made some great gains since the Nation At Risk, but we’re not where we need to be in the international rankings of what students know and can do in core academic subjects.

This is the first time that the most recent findings from the three major internationals tests have been published in one place. It compels us to renew our focus and reinvigorate our resolve to prepare our students to achieve to high academic standards and be ready for the global marketplace.