How Do US Kids Stack Up Against the Rest of the World?

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Are American schools really 26th in the world, as Donald Trump says? Bob Somerby has been on this beat for a while, and says it ain’t so. So where do we rank?

Well, it depends on which test you believe. There are two big international tests of schoolkids: the TIMSS (math) / PIRLS (reading) tests, which have been in use since 1995; and the newer PISA tests, which have been in use since 2000. They give very different results. In theory, the TIMSS tests are more about straightforward problem solving, while the PISA tests are more conceptual. Whether that’s really true is a matter of opinion, as is the question of which test is “better.”

I won’t weigh in on that. However, as Somerby points out, one of the striking things about these tests is that a small clutch of Asian countries do far better than us. In fact, they do far better than everyone, something they accomplish through a combination of cherry picking the students who take the test and a monomaniac culture of test prep. So let’s take that as given, and just look at the rankings outside of the Asian tigers. Here’s the raw data from the most recent tests. Each box shows the average score, the US rank, and the two countries right above and below the US.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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