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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release June 10, 1997

Good News for American Education at Close of School Year

U.S. 4th Grade Students Are Internationally Competitive in Science and Math. President Clinton announced today the fourth-grade results of the Third International Math and Science Study (TIMSS), which show that U.S. students score above the international average in both science and math, compared with 25 other participating countries. The President, joined by Education Secretary Richard Riley, welcomed the news, calling the results a good first step toward our national goal of being first in the world in math and science, and a clear indication that our students and schools can compete with those all over the world.

In science, U.S. students' average score was 565 --41 points above the international average science score of 524. U.S. fourth graders were outperformed only by students in Korea, and scored higher than students in 19 other countries.

In math, U.S. students' average score was 545 --16 points above the international average of 529. Only seven countries --Singapore, Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Netherlands, the Czech Republic and Austria --outperformed U.S. students, while U.S. students outperformed those in 12 other countries.

These results show that U.S. schools are improving. The mathematics results in particular show gains from a previous international assessment, which had indicated that U.S. students performed below the international average.

President Calls for National Standards and Tests for 8th Grade Math to Keep American Students on Track. While U.S. 4th grade math and science achievement is strong, 8th grade achievement is relatively weak, especially in math, based on TIMSS results released in November. To keep American students achieving at a high level, the President again challenged all states to adopt national standards and tests in 8th grade math. The voluntary national test in 8th grade math will be based on the existing widely accepted National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) 8th grade math test, and will also be linked to TIMSS, allowing students, parents and teachers to see how schools and students did compared with international benchmarks. The new test will focus on the years when U.S. achievement begins to falter and will help ensure that students have mastered the basics of math, including the essentials of algebra and geometry.

Kentucky to Participate in The Voluntary National Tests in 4th Grade Reading And 8th Grade Math. The President also announced that Governor Paul Patton of Kentucky has asked that Kentucky be included in the voluntary national tests in 4th grade reading and 8th grade math when the tests are first given in the Spring of 1999. Governor Patton joins all DOD schools and a growing list of educational leaders in California, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, North Carolina and West Virginia in endorsing the tests.