This study, recently released by the US Department of Education National Center for Education Statistics, claims to be "the most thorough international study of math and science education ever conducted." The report's main conclusions include: "The content of US eighth-grade mathematics classes is not as challenging as that of other countries, and topic coverage is not as focused; and evidence suggests that US teachers do not receive as much practical training and daily support as their German and Japanese colleagues." In addition to the report of initial findings (in HTML and Adobe Acrobat .pdf versions), there is a news release from the Department of Education and information about a videotape classroom study that accompanied the main study. This is the first of a series of reports that will cover "US mathematics and science education for fourth, [eighth] and twelfth grade students in an international context."
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Pursuing Excellence: A Study of US Eighth-Grade Mathematics and Science Teaching, Learning, Curriculum, and Achievement in International Context