It turns out that US students aren’t that bad at math, they just have no motivation to do the PISA test properly. (The PISA test is an external test that has no bearing on their school academic results.)
It’s no secret that young Americans perform poorly on math and science tests, especially compared to their peers in countries like Singapore, Korea and China, where math scores are among the highest in the world. Now, a working paper surfaces a fundamental reason for that weak performance: American students are simply not trying hard enough.
In the latest results of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), US students ranked roughly average among the 75 participating countries. The PISA tests, administered by the OECD every three years, assess 15-year-olds around the world on math, science and reading. Governments and policy makers point to the outcomes when making the case for education reform.
The researchers also ran a simulation, and found that if the 15-year-olds in the US had been given the same cash bonus in 2012 when taking the assessment, America would have ranked 19th in the PISA math test instead of 36th among 65 nations.