American students' test scores remained stagnant for another year, trailing as East Asian countries continue to maintain top scores in international education rankings released Tuesday.
U.S. students ranked in the middle of the 34 countries scored, according to results from the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), below average on math and near the average on reading and science. The U.S. showed limited progress despite countless education reforms during the last few years, including Race to the Top and No Child Left Behind.
Several European countries saw big gains in the test results: Poland, Germany and Ireland moved up in the rankings, and Vietnam, which administered the test for the first time, topped the U.S. in math and science.
“While we are seeing some encouraging progress on many important measures, the United States’ performance on the 2012 PISA is a picture of educational stagnation. This is a reality at odds with our aspiration to have the best-educated, most competitive workforce in the world,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a statement.
The announcement of the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development scores will be met with great fanfare at a D.C. event on Tuesday at the Newseum, despite the average rankings.
“All these special interest groups saying all the way across the board saying it’s not our fault, it’s not our fault,” co-host Willie Geist said of the education reform advocates that downplayed the scores or used it to advance their agendas. “Nobody wants to say, ‘Hey, there’s a problem there let’s do something about it, everybody still… goes into their bunkers and protects their own interests.'”
American Federation of Teacher’s Randi Weingarten used the scores to rally against test-based schooling initiatives that have been pushed by both the Bush and Obama administrations for years.
"While the intentions may have been good, a decade of top-down, test-based schooling created by No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top—focused on hyper-testing students, sanctioning teachers and closing schools—has failed to improve the quality of American public education," she said in a statement. "Sadly, our nation has ignored the lessons from the high-performing nations.
The test was administered in the fall of 2012 to 28 million 15 and 16-year-old students in 34 countries.