As an English teacher working in Hong Kong, I see a big difference in how all of this plays out. First, don't even give any weight to the so called comparisons and staus quo. There is no apples to apples comparisons. I have paid close attention to the students here in Hong Kong and I can tell you, if you averaged their test scores, they would not be any more significant than others.
While it is true, that in these other countries, the students for sure spend more time in school, and more time studying. Only the top 1% come out ahead. Everything here is based on the tests that you have to pass to get from P6 to S!/F1 and then from F5 to F6 and then F6 to F7 and then what used to be the HKCEE and HKALE got changed to their new final test the HKDSE. The students here study to pass that. Did you know that in the HK schools, they arrange the desks so there's usually four students sitting in a configuration so anyone of them can copy the best students work at that set of desks? I watch students who can't even do the work, copy answers, whether right or wrong from the other students. I watch four students get the same answers wrong because of it. They don't enforce individuality here and make the students think for themselves and work as individuals until they get into secondary school and then the students, when they can't do the copying, fall behind quickly because they don't have a foundation started. I see the same thing you see in America's schools, kids goofing off, sleeping at their desks, and constantly getting talked to about under performance. These kids are no different than the average school kid who doesn't want to learn, because it's too much work!
I say, create a standard test for all of the worlds students to take, regardless of culture and then you can measure whether one societies students are doing better than anothers. Until that happens, throw out the results, their just propaganda! On the positive side, as long as the US keeps thinking their lagging behind, it will prompt them to keep improving our schools, maybe even finally paying teachers what their worth instead of making them feel like a babysitter can earn as much.
* Last updated by: Mark55 on 11/3/2011 @ 1:18 AM *