A report out last week by Harvard University's Program on Education Policy and Governance found that U.S. students aren't progressing to catch up to their foreign peers.
Students in Latvia, Chile and Brazil are making gains in academics three times faster than American students, while those in Portugal, Hong Kong, Germany, Poland, Liechtenstein, Slovenia, Colombia and Lithuania are improving at twice the rate.
The study's findings support years of rankings that show foreign students outpacing their American peers academically. Students in Shanghai who recently took international exams for the first time outscored every other school system in the world. In the same test, American students ranked 25th in math, 17th in science and 14th in reading.
Just 6 percent of U.S. students performed at the advanced level on an international exam administered in 56 countries in 2006. That proportion is lower than those achieved by students in 30 other countries.
So what does this all look like visually? The folks at Certification Map has put cross-country comparisons into an "Education Olympics" infographic. Keep in mind, the Soviet Union was excluded from the graph because of its dissolution in 1991, though it ranked second in terms of the most "gold medals" earned.
Mathematics and science rankings were taken from the 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment, which used Shanghai student scores as a proxy for all of China.
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