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The U.S. Technology Skills Gap: What Every Technology Executive Must Know to Save America's Future, + Website by Gary J. Beach

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CHAPTER 9

The Skills Gap Warnings Begin

I hold no copyright on the notion that the situation in public education is not a healthy one. Indeed, if one were to select the most shopworn question in American life today, “What's wrong with our schools?” would undoubtedly be a strong contender for top honors.

—MYRON LIEBERMAN, THE FUTURE OF PUBLIC EDUCATION1

1964: The First International Mathematics Study

Created just as the baby boom generation was coming to a close, the First International Mathematics Study was, as its name says, the initial international mathematics assessment test. Conducted in 12 countries by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement, it reported on the math skills of eighth graders and high school seniors with the goal of identifying the factors within each country that led to math proficiency.2

In America, a country struggling at that time with political assassinations, race riots, civil rights marches, and an escalating war in Vietnam, the results of the First International Mathematics Study barely caught anyone's attention—even though American eighth graders came in next to last in the study (see Table 9.1).

Table 9.1 We're Number 1—Plus 10!

Country Mean Number of 70 Items Answered Correctly
Israel 32.3
Japan 32.2
Belgium 30.4
Finland 26.4
Federal Republic of Germany 25.4
England 23.8
Scotland 22.3
Netherlands 21.4
France 21.0
Australia 18.9
United States 17.8
Sweden 15.3
Source: National Center ...

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