Michigan eighth graders competitive in science and math in international assessment

Oct 25, 2013

Math class
Math class
Credit Morguefile

A new report said Michigan eighth graders perform in the middle of the pack in math, and better in science, compared with students in other countries. 

Bob Geier is associate director of the CREATE for STEM Institute at Michigan State University.  He says students in Michigan and most other states lag behind the top-performing countries.

He said "we haven't hit the high benchmark which is really where the top international and state level education systems are. But in both cases we have met the intermediate benchmark for mathematics and science."

The report was issued by the National Center for Education Statistics of the U.S. Department of Education. It said average scores in math for 36 states were higher than the international average. In ten states, including Michigan,  the average math scores were the same as the international average.

In science, average scores in 47 states, including Michigan, exceeded the international average.

At the highest performance level, Michigan has a long way to go compared to the strongest countries in math.  Only 5 percent of Michigan eighth graders reached the top international benchmark in math. About 50 percent of students from Korea, Singapore and Chinese Taipei were in the top group. The differences are less pronounced in science.

Bob Geier said it's important to keep up student performance in high school and beyond.

He said  a key consideration is  "whether we keep those kids in the pipeline, whether we maintain their interest in science and mathematics as they move through school so that they stay in those fields. And that one is a concern for us here in Michigan as well as across the country."

He says Michigan needs graduates prepared for jobs that require math and science skills.

Virginia Gordan, Michigan Radio Newsroom