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Below Average

March 02, 1998

The latest results from the Third International Mathematics and Science Study compare the mathematics and science knowledge of U.S. 12th-graders with those in 20 other countries, and the achievement of U.S. students taking physics and advanced mathematics with those in 15 other countries. The tests were given in 1994-1995.

Students in their final year of secondary school

MATHEMATICS AND SCIENCE LITERACY

Country: Mean achievement*

Significantly higher than international average:

Netherlands: 559

Sweden: 555

Iceland: 541

Norway: 536

Switzerland: 531

Denmark: 528

Canada: 526

New Zealand: 525

Austria: 519

Not significantly different than international average:

Australia: 525

Slovenia: 514

France: 505

Germany: 496

Czech Republic: 476

Significantly lower than international average:

Hungary: 477

Russian Federation: 476

Italy: 475

United States: 471

Lithuania: 465

Cyprus: 447

South Africa: 352

International average: 500

ADVANCED MATHEMATICS

Significantly higher than international average:

Country: Mean achievement*

France: 557

Russian Federation: 542

Switzerland: 533

Denmark: 522

Cyprus: 518

Lithuania: 516

Not significantly different than international average:

Australia: 525

Greece: 513

Sweden: 512

Canada: 509

Slovenia: 475

Italy: 474

Significantly lower than international average:

Czech Republic: 469

Germany: 465

United States: 442

Austria: 436

International average: 501

PHYSICS

Significantly higher than international average:

Country: Mean achievement*

PHYSICS

Norway: 581

Sweden: 573

Russian Federation: 545

Denmark: 534

Not significantly different than international average:

Slovenia: 523

Germany: 522

Australia: 518

Cyprus: 494

Latvia (LSS): 488

Greece: 486

Significantly lower than international average:

Switzerland: 488

Canada: 485

France: 466

Czech Republic: 451

Austria: 435

United States: 423

International average: 501

A sample question:

The sketch at right shows two windows. The top window has been cracked by a flying stone. A tennis ball, with the same mass and speed as the stone, strikes the one similar window below, but does not crack it.

What is one important reason why the impact of the stone cracks the window but the impact of the tennis ball does not?

Answer to question:

The tennis ball is hollow inside, but the rock is solid.

* Because of potential statistical error and rounding, some totals may appear inconsistent.

A sample question

Source: IEA Third International Mathematics and Science Study

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