The American Education System


TheAmerican Education System

TheAmerican Education System

TheAmerican education system is very expensive and costly to theparents, but the quality of college programs is mediocre compared tothe rest of the OECD countries. Ryan (2013) states that the U.S.students’ performance lagged behind China, Korea, Japan,Switzerland, and Finland during the 2012 Programme for InternationalStudent Assessment (PISA) for 15-year-olds only. Equally, Firestone(2013) reveals that college-trained teachers are to blame for thepoor performance of American students. The author advocated for thehiring of university graduates who are competent in math, science,and literacy tests to replace the current teachers. PISA results showthat the United States’ mean score fell below the average of 494while Shanghai-China topped at 613 in 2012.

Overfifty-five percent of the Chinese students who participated in thePISA tests were top scorers compared to only nine percent of theAmericans (Ryan, 2013). On the other hand, one in every four U.S.students performed below the baseline level of 2 of the PISAmathematics proficiency. Moreover, even the top students in the U.S.lag behind the proficiency displayed by the Chinese, Koreans, andSwiss students. America spends over $115,000 per student compared tothe Slovak Republic that spent $53,000 to achieve a similar score in2012 (Ryan, 2013).Thus, Ryan argues that higher expenditure perstudent in the U.S. is not a predictor of better performance in math,science, and reading tests.

Similarly,Firestone states that American workers displayed the lowestmathematical problem-solving skills compared to the rest of thedeveloped world’s labor market (2013). The study found out thatAmerican skilled workers face high competition from proficientgraduates with comparable or better skills. For example, in 2012, theU.S. students scored 481, which fell short of the OECD’s average of494 compared to Shanghai-China that topped at 613 (Firestone, 2013).Therefore, the research indicates that the American workforce isunderprivileged in mathematical and science skills compared tograduates from Ireland, Vietnam, Germany, Poland, Canada, Finland,and Netherlands that scored above 500 on the PISA tests.

Firestoneargues that the poor ranking of the U.S. in the global literacy andmathematical skills is caused by poor quality of education offered bycollege-level teachers (2013). Thus, the author recommends adoptionof the Finland education system policy that would eliminate the useof college-trained teachers by hiring university graduateprofessionals only. In Finland, only the top students from highschools are admitted to undertake the teaching course at theUniversity level. Comparatively, only the State of New York hasraised the admission requirements for teaching programs at its StateUniversity (Firestone, 2013). The Finnish system admits only the topstudents to its teaching program to ensure that they deliver thehighest quality of education. On the contrary, the U.S. teachingprogram draws on the average students, which result in poorperformance of students.

Botharticles discuss the issue of poor quality of education in the U.S.and contrast the value with higher funding per student that fails totranslate into higher performance record. Ryan’s main argument iscentered on the poor performance of American students in math,science, and literacy tests according to PISA reports. Ryan usespercentages and statistics to highlight how expensive education istranslating to poor performance without giving recommendations forimprovement. Thus, Ryan fails to use the PISA statisticsappropriately to find a solution to fix the poor quality of educationin America compared to other nations. On the other hand, Firestone’sarticle is quite detailed and provides more information about theperformance of American workers to other developed nations.Firestone’s article analyzes the Finnish, Chinese, and Canadianeducation sectors and contrasts them with the failed Americaneducation system. Therefore, Firestone’s article is comprehensivein associating how poor student performance in math, science, andliteracy tests results in lower retention of skills among theAmerican workers. Moreover, Firestone asserts that the Americanquality of education will change only when professionally traineduniversity teachers are hired like in Finland and China.


Firestone,D. (2013). Why other countries teach better threereasons students do better overseas. TheNew York Times.

Ryan,J. (2013). American schools vs. the world: Expensive, unequal, bad atmath. TheAtlantic Monthly Group.

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