By practically any measure, the quality of public K–12 education in the United States is dismal. Of the high school seniors who in 2009 took the biennial National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) tests, administered by the U.S. Department of Education, fully 74% scored below proficient in mathematics, 62% in reading, and 79% in science. While the U.S. stagnates, other countries are pulling ahead. For instance, in 2009 the latest round of comparative international exams administered by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), American 15-year-olds ranked 25th in math, 17th in reading, and 22nd in science among its 34 member nations. Chinese students took the tests for the first time in 2009 and blew everyone away, ranking first in all three subject areas.
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