First of a two-part series on middle-school science curricula. Part two, "Where's the Book?", is available at Where's the Book?.
Last December, the National Center for Education Statistics unveiled a series of disquieting findings from an international study of students' math and science achievement. The data showed that among 38 surveyed nations, eighth graders in the United States ranked no better than the middle of the pack.
Thirteen-year-olds in the United States outperformed peers in Italy, Lithuania, Jordan, Turkey, Morocco, and South Africa, but they trailed their counterparts in at least 17 countries, including Singapore, Japan, Australia, and the Slovak Republic.
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