A recently published article in BBC News referenced a Harvard study showing the extremely poor test results that American students score in math, relative to other countries. The article, called “US in Denial over Poor Math Standards” points out that it isn’t just a matter of having the low achieving schools pulling the scores down, “The study also shows that privileged youngsters in the US, with highly-educated parents, are lagging behind similar youngsters in other developed countries.” The report goes on to say that “The US has been a mediocre performer in international education tests, based on average performance across the country, but this study shows how this average conceals a remarkably wide range of successes and failures.” The study compares students from highly educated families from all states in the US with their counterparts in other countries, showing that if Massachusetts were a country, it would rank seventh in the world, while Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana have math scores similar to developing countries like Kazakhstan and Thailand. California and New York rank well below the average for all industrialized nations, including the US.
This is pretty depressing news for the country, but that is not the case here at Our Savior’s Lutheran School. Not only do we not fit the national model for performance in math, our scores come out above the highest performing states. According to the study, looking at students from the class of 2015 whose parents have a high level of education in 2015, 26% of US students tested as proficient in math, while the highest performing state, Massachusetts, had 62% of its students from well-educated families test proficient in math. The highest math proficiency in the world for students from highly educated families is Korea, with 73%. In some ways we are comparing apples to oranges, of course, since our students were not in grade 12 last year, but it is still significant that 100% of our fifth grade students have tested as proficient or above for the last four years. Compared to other fifth grade students nationally, our students’ average math scores were in the top 4% of the nation.
The experience of our students affirms the value of the education we provide at Our Savior's Lutheran School in San Clemente. What we know about students who graduate from Our Savior’s Lutheran School is that they move on to middle school, whether public or private, with such a good foundation in academics, studies skills, and high personal standards that they are years ahead of their classmates. When I check in with our alumni or their parents, our alumni consistently achieve honor roll at their new school, even if they weren’t on honor roll here. The kinds of high standards and study skills they learn here set students up for a self-fulfilling prophesy of achievement which carries them through high school, college and beyond.