The OECD results are in, and teenagers in the United States are (drum roll, please) absolutely average.
Survey results released last week from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA, found that 15-year-old students in the U.S. rank 14th in reading and 17th in science compared to other OECD countries. They fall far behind in math, where they rank 25th.
There wasn't much disagreement in the reaction; these results are very bad news. "Being average in reading and science -- and below average in math -- is not nearly good enough," said Education Secretary Arne Duncan. American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said other countries "out-invest us... out-respect us... and out-prepare us."
At the risk of sounding like a curmudgeon, what's so awful about being average? In every graduating class, there can be only one valedictorian. Can the United States, one of the most diverse of the world's developed countries, really compete with much smaller and homogenous countries like Finland and Korea? Does America's fall from grace over the last generation say more about other countries' development than our own educational efforts? With the United States' broad range between rural and urban, rich and poor populations, what can it realistically expect in worldwide educational comparisons?