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U.S. Math Performance in Global Perspective: How Well Does Each State Do at Producing High-Achieving Students?

Eric A. Hanushek, Paul E. Peterson, Ludger Woessmann
Published Date: 
November 2010
PEPG Report No. 10–19
Cambridge, MA: Program on Education Policy and Governance, Harvard University

Maintaining our innovative edge in the world depends importantly on developing a highly qualified cadre of scientists and engineers. To realize that objective requires a system of schooling that produces students with advanced math and science skills. To see how well the U.S. as a whole, each state, and certain urban districts do at producing high-achieving math students, the percentage of U.S. public and private school students in the high-school graduating Class of 2009 who were highly accomplished in mathematics in each of the 50 states and in 10 urban districts is compared to the percentages of similarly high achievers in 56 other countries. Unfortunately, the percentage of students in the U.S. Class of 2009 who were highly accomplished in math is well below that of most countries with which the U.S. generally compares itself. No less than 30 of the 56 other countries that participated in the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) math test had a larger percentage of students who scored at the international equivalent of the advanced level on our National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) tests.