Higher Learning

With the United States supposedly being the leading country in terms of having the world’s largest economy and entrepreneurial climate, why is our education system falling behind other countries reflective of our student academic performances? Could the academic deficiencies of American children be due to their delinquency in starting their education at an earlier age than in most countries? Is there a learning gap between genders in the United States as opposed to international students? Does classroom size determine the outcome of an American student’s success?

When comparing the starting age of children in pre-kindergarten programs in foreign countries to the U.S., surveys revealed children are allowed to begin their childhood education during the most crucial stages of a child’s early developmental years. For example, Denmark allows children to begin preschool as early as 12-months-old. The main objective for their early education curriculums are focused on learning cultural norms, social and motor skills imperative for managing the cognitive, emotional and social development of a child. Kindergarten programs are taught at age 3 in Korea and Singapore. Belgium provides the same early educational opportunities for 2-year-olds, while the average age for kindergarten attendance in the United States is 4-years-old.

Gender discrepancies when comparing test scores in mathematics and science fairly compensates for the benefits of having an early education, but may also explain the rationale behind the differences in scores amongst gender due to the persuasion from cultural forces in other countries. South Korean and Singapore’s fourth-grade male and female students ranked in the highest overall percentile in test scores in math and science when compared to the 11th percentile ranking in math and the 17th percentile ranking in science for both male and female U.S. fourth-graders. In Korea and Finland, 15-year-old females scored 14 percent higher in science scores than 15-year-old males. However, male students within the same age bracket were in the overall lead by 15 percent when compared to the 15-year-old female students in the United States. Females as well as males in countries such as Russia, Asia, and the Middle East are persuaded at an early age to go into science and engineering occupations whereas females are stereotypically motivated to only pursue nursing, teaching, and administrative occupations in the United States.

Studies have shown student performance rarely depends on the student-teacher ratio regardless of differences amongst the diverse cultural and ethnic populations nationally and internationally. Korean and Japanese K-12 schools, with its 37-to-1 student-teacher ratio, still ranks higher in student performance than with Finnish K-12 schools at a 20-to-1 ratio. In the United States, Vermont and Wisconsin ranks closest in comparison to Korean, Japanese, and Finnish schools for high-ranking student performance yet with a lower student-teacher ratio. While Vermont K-12 schools currently has a student-teacher ratio of 11-to-1 and Wisconsin K-12 schools with a 15-to-1 ratio, both schools maintain more culturally diverse teachers than students.

Conclusively, there is no one contributing factor as to why America does not hold the highest rank in student performances nor is there any cause to blame why the United States cannot achieve a higher ranking than it has. American minority and Latino students have made a considerable amount of progress over the years, therefore it cannot be proclaimed that cultural diversity holds any sort of hindrance on a child’s academic success. All students enrolled in the education system in America are allotted the same equal opportunistic educational advantages as in other countries, but its up to our nation as a whole to encourage our students to make the most out of their opportunities before we can reach the rank of #1 amongst all other nations.

©2013 Learus Ohnine


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