Date: Dec 11, 2012 4:47 PM
Author: Paul A. Tanner III
Subject: Re: TIMMS 2011 How did your country go? Not good news for US!

On Tue, Dec 11, 2012 at 2:36 PM, Robert Hansen wrote:
> On Dec 11, 2012, at 12:58 PM, Paul Tanner wrote:
> So it still is fair to say that when we make even just crude
> adjustments for ethnic demographics, we see the US pubic school system
> doing as well as just about any other school system *covering an
> entire country* in the world.
> Huh? You just compared U.S. Whites to the entire population of a few hand
> picked countries. Nothing you've said here is "fair to say". The average of
> the whole U.S. is 509 and that of whites only is 530. 21 measly points. Why
> even bother saying "Whites only"? The skewing you are doing for 21 points
> isn't worth the humiliation when you realize that the top countries have
> averages in the 600's.

You are not addressing properly at all what I in my prior post in this thread

wrote. And it was not only for a few handpicked countries, since the implications are clear when we take ethnic demographics into account - such an adjustment would result in the US scoring much higher. That is:

I addressed the issue of more homogeneous countries vs more heterogeneous countries. More than 90% of Russia - and this would hold up for their children - would be classified as white according to American classifications. The same is true of England and many other countries in the northern parts of Europe. These countries are so homogeneous, that taking only the scores of their white students would result in little or no statistical change in these countries' scores.

Given that the US child population is now only 53% white (see the below link), one would have to be very seriously in denial to not see that if the US had more than 90% of their test takers being white - as we see in these very white countries of northern Europe and Russia, given the very large gap in the scores between US white students and US non-East-Asian non-white students, the latter scoring very much lower than the former, the score for the entire US in that scenario would be very close to that national 530 score for all US whites, well above all non-East-Asian countries taking the TIMSS 8th grade math portion except for Russia, but still close to their 539.

In looking at

"Population Distribution of Children by Race/Ethnicity, states (2010-2011), U.S. (2011)"

we see that for minors, Florida is 48% white and Massachusetts is 68% white. Looking at that other link I gave along with this link above at my prior post shows that there is a mild correlation (not a perfect one) regarding the states that took TIMSS separately - the more homogeneous the state, the higher the TIMSS score for the whole state. But yes, it is clear that the students are better taught in Massachusetts than in Alabama.

If you want to engage in any kind of legitimate analysis of these TIMSS results, then you are going to have to take fully into account the very different ethnic demographics of the US and the non-East-Asian countries all over the world, including the fact that different ethnic groups in these countries score very, very differently, to obtain any kind of remotely fair comparison of the scores of the different countries.

But if you want to persist in saying that the US public school system is so lousy, what about the rest of the non-East-Asian world? How do you explain the US states that for 8th grade beat or at least statistically matched Russia at 539 - the highest non-East-Asian score, or at least almost all the other countries outside of East Asia? These states are Massachusetts, Minnesota, and even North Carolina, at 561, 545, and 537 respectively. The next highest scores for non-East-Asian countries were Israel at 516 and Finland at 514, not statistically significantly different than the entire US at 509. The other US states that took this test all beat or matched Israel and Finland, except for Alabama: Indiana at 522, Colorado at 518, Connecticut at 518, Florida at 513, and Alabama at 466. I mean good grief, look at all those other advanced countries from Europe and elsewhere - they all scored lower than the US, most below 500 but still above Alabama.

Finally this note: The culture in East Asian countries is such that they value academic achievement as much or more than athletic achievement. It seems to me very much the opposite here and in all these other countries. Given this, you can forget about comparing the two groups of countries. Because of this cultural difference, you can forget about the rest of the world totally matching East Asian performance on these tests. That is why I keep comparing the US - including in the context of those demographic adjustments - to only the entire non-East-Asian world. The US compares very well in that regard.