> ...And how not strange that Stuyvesant and her > sisters are the very few schools of academic merit in > an otherwise collapsed school system.
On this fraud that the US public school system has collapsed, to correct the record again, since the term "collapse" has no meaning with respect to the facts:
Fact: When we correct for demographics, we see that US white students score as well or better on international tests like TIMSS and PISA than the white students of just about every other country on the planet, US black students score as well or better on international tests like TIMSS and PISA than the black students of just about every other country on the planet, and so on. The reason the overall scores are not as high on these tests as they could be in comparison to some other countries is because in all countries, the scores by each segment of non East-Asian non-white students are significantly lower and because the percentage of the US student population of this much lower scoring overall population segment is much higher than it is in those countries that have overall higher scores than the US.
Fact: Because of the success of advanced math education in the US public school system, the US now has roughly 5% of its entire high school senior aged population (and this includes all those not in school or in vocational schools or whatever) take *and* pass a national AP calculus exam covering an entire year of high school calculus. Very few countries on the entire planet - regardless of the ethnic demographic of the country's student population - could say that they have an advanced math education system that yields this high a percentage of the its entire high school senior aged population that could take *and* pass a national calculus exam covering an entire year of high school calculus. And when we look at only those US high school students that actually completed calculus classes that actually were certified by the AP Calculus testing body to follow the AP Calculus guidelines, we see these students scoring very much higher on advanced international tests than those ad! vanced students of all other countries taking the tests.
Fact: In roughly 30 years, this percentage of the entire high school senior aged population of the US that has taken *and* passed a national calculus exam has increased from roughly 0.5% to the present roughly 5%, an entire order of magnitude increase.
To provide details on the above:
We need to look beneath the surface to be fair, to see what is really happening in the US, to see that, again, the US pubic school system in some measurable ways is doing as well or better than just about any other country in the world not only for its whole population but for its advanced students. (This does not mean of course that the system could not do better.)
See what this conservative economist (Post-Doc at the University of Chicago and a Research Fellow at the Institute of Industrial Economics) has to say about what is actually going on with these international comparisons:
Quote: "Once we correct (even crudely) for demography in the 2009 PISA scores, American students outperform Western Europe by significant margins and tie with Asian students."
In addition, note that PISA tests 15 year olds that may already be in high schools in Europe, and if they are not, they immediately or almost immediately go into high school. But in Europe, depending on the country, fully half to two thirds of the student population goes not into academic high schools but into vocational high schools, depending on the country. All of US students go into academic high schools. If fully half to two thirds of those European students taking PISA are not in or going into vocational high schools, then the distribution of those representing those countries are unfairly skewed toward their top one half to one third of their student populations, which is an unfair comparison to those representing the US, which represent the entire US student population and is not skewed toward the top one half to one third of the US student population.
The conservative Heritage Foundation points out that the US public school system is doing a good job educating roughly 60% of the US student population, this 60% measures third best in the world in reading on PISA:
"If white American students were counted as a separate group, their PISA reading score would rank them third in the world."
 U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "PISA 2009," Tables R1 and R3, athttp://nces.ed.gov/pubs2011/2011004_1.pdf (April 1, 2011). The U.S. as a whole is not included when ranking each American ethnic group.
[Note: Non-Hispanic white students make up about 60% of the US student population.]
"In math, the state's eighth graders scored 547, ranking sixth behind Chinese Taipei (598), Republic of Korea (597), Singapore (593), Hong Kong SAR (572), and Japan (570).
"Massachusetts has a long history of success with education reform and the academic achievement of students," said Education Secretary Paul Reville. "Our students have consistently performed at the highest levels on many national measures and now we have confirmation that many are prepared according to an international measure. Our task now is to transform our public education system so that all students receive the education, support and guidance they need to improve their achievement and acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to prepare them for higher education and an ever-evolving workforce."
Other findings include:
* Massachusetts 8th graders made significant gains in math and science performance on TIMSS between 1999 and 2007. In math, the state's 8th graders improved by 34 points, from 513 in 1999 to 547 in 2007. In science, 8th graders scored 23 points higher in 2007 (556) than in 1999 (533). There are no trend results for the state's 4th graders. * In grade 8 science, 20% of Massachusetts students met the Advanced Benchmark, behind Singapore (32%) and Chinese Taipei (25%). In math, 16% of the state's 8th graders scored Advanced, behind Chinese Taipei (45%), the Republic of Korea (40%), Singapore (40%), Hong Kong SAR (31%), and Japan (26%)."
See Table E-14 for the mean 4th and 8th grade mathematics scores of the non-Hispanic white students from the US:
For 4th grade: It is 550. This is higher than the mean score of every last non-East-Asian country in the world that took TIMSS in 2007.
For 8th grade: It is 533. This is higher than the mean score of every last non-East-Asian country in the world that took TIMSS in 2007.
See Table E-33 for the mean 4th and 8th grade science scores of the non-Hispanic white students from the US:
For 4th grade: It is 567. This is higher than the mean score of every last non-East-Asian country in the world that took TIMSS in 2007.
For 8th grade: It is 551. This is higher than the mean score of every last non-East-Asian country in the world that took TIMSS in 2007.
Finally, consider the research study I keep citing published in 2000. They found that even those of students who completed an AP Calculus course certified by the College Board who failed their AP Calculus test are getting as much or better training in advanced math than those advanced math students in all those countries that took the TIMSS Advanced math test in both 1995 and 2008, including the highest scoring countries:
See pages 11 and 15. It shows that even those AP Calculus students in that study who failed their AP Calculus exam with only a score of 1 or 2 still had a higher scaled score on this retake of the TIMSS Advanced math test than even the highest scoring country in either the 1995 or 2008 TIMSS Advanced math test. These US students in that study who failed their AP Calculus exam with only a 1 or 2 still had such high levels of advanced mathematics knowledge and understanding and skill that they scored 565 on that TIMSS Advanced math test. The students who took the test for France in 1995 had the highest score in 1995 on the TIMSS Advanced Math test with a score of 557, and the students who took the test for Russia in 2008 had the highest score in 2008 on the TIMSS Advanced Math test with a score of 561. Here is the proof of this fact that even those who failed their AP Calculus exams were still so well educated in advanced math:
Exhibit 5: Average Achievement of AP Calculus Students in Advanced Mathematics by Results AP Calculus Examinations:
Less than 3 on AP Calculus AB 565 (TIMSS Advanced math average score) 3 or better on AP Calculus AB 586 (TIMSS Advanced math average score) Less than 3 on AP Calculus BC 564 (TIMSS Advanced math average score) 3 or better on AP Calculus BC 633 (TIMSS Advanced math average score)
That is, the AP Calculus students in this study who failed their AP Calculus exams had slightly better math knowledge and understanding and skill than the average advanced math student that took either the 1995 or 2008 advanced math test from even the highest scoring country. Those who passed their AP Calculus exams scored very much higher. This is VERY significant in terms of how well educated those US AP Calculus students who complete certified AP courses and take the AP Calculus tests are educated in advanced math.
Here are some more facts:
Fact: The average high school graduate of say, forty years ago knew less algebra than the average high school graduate today. This is because of the fact that most students back then did not take even just Algebra I before getting a high school diploma - now it is required to get a diploma.
Fact: And on top of that, they forty years ago did not even have a standardized test you had to pass to get that diploma - having an exit exam only started in the 1980s or later in most states, and these exit exams have just been getting tougher over time. This exit exam is just now changed into a series of end-of-course tests that will very soon include even Algebra II. Compare that to the exit exams of the 80s and 90s that had no algebra on them at all. See my posts that prove this such as:
Fact: The vast majority of the Algebra I and Algebra II courses are tougher now than back then. Back then the typical Algebra II course (based on such textbooks I talked about here before where the quadratic formula was introduced only toward the end of Algebra II) were not an adequate preparation for calculus - one had to take another and more advanced pre-algebra course covering such as analytic trigonometry before taking calculus.