Beware of "good grades" and investigate the math content taught in our schools!
In short, the percentages of high-achieving students in the United States—and in most of its individual states—are shockingly below those of many of the world’s leading industrialized nations. Results for many states are at a level equal to those of third-world countries.
U. S. Math Performance in World Perspective
Overall results. The percentage of students in the U.S. Class of 2009 who were highly accomplished is well below that of most countries with which the United States generally compares itself. While just 6 percent of U.S. students earned at least 617.1 points on the PISA 2006 exam, 28 percent of Taiwanese students did.
Unfortunately, the United States trails other industrialized countries in bringing a large proportion of its students up to the highest levels of accomplishment. This is not a story of some states doing well but being dragged down by states that perform poorly. Nor is it a story of immigrant or disadvantaged or minority students hiding the strong performance of better-prepared students. Comparatively small percentages of white students are high achievers. Only a small proportion of the children of our college-educated population is equipped to compete with students in a majority of OECD countries.
Major policy initiatives within the United States have in recent years focused on the educational needs of low-performing students. Such efforts deserve commendation, but they can leave the impression that there is no similar need to enhance the education of those students the STEM coalition has called “the best and brightest.”