America's High School Graduates Look Like Other Countries' High School Dropouts : NPR Ed A new study looks at everyday skills, and finds that, when it comes to math, the U.S. is below average. And in computer skills, Americans are dreadful.
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America's High School Graduates Look Like Other Countries' High School Dropouts

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America's High School Graduates Look Like Other Countries' High School Dropouts

America's High School Graduates Look Like Other Countries' High School Dropouts

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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

There is new data out today that confirms what many Americans already know deep in their hearts. A lot of us are not good at math. And when it comes to everyday technology skills, we are dead last when compared to other developed countries. Here's Gabrielle Emanuel of NPR's Ed team.

GABRIELLE EMANUEL, BYLINE: Let's start with the bad news Americans are dreadful at technology skills - using email, naming a file on a computer, using a link on a webpage or just texting someone.

PEGGY CARR: No country scored below the U.S.

EMANUEL: Peggy Carr is the acting commissioner of the government's National Center for Education Statistics.

CARR: We performed on par with only one other country - Poland.

EMANUEL: Who took the prize - Japan and then Finland did the best. Carr told me that when she and her team looked at other data about reading and math, they started to notice something interesting. They zoomed in on young adults and saw that those who went to college or graduate school were doing pretty well. In literacy, there were actually doing better than their peers in other countries.

CARR: So that's a bit of good news.

EMANUEL: But here's the kicker. When they looked at Americans who had a high school diploma, they looked a lot like other countries' high school dropouts. We had a lot of work to do.

EMANUEL: That was especially true when it came to math. So want to do a sample math question that Carr gave me? You go to the store, and there's a sale. Buy one; get the second half off. You decide to buy two. How much do you pay?

CARR: High school-credentialed adults - they can't do this task on average.

EMANUEL: What does that tell us about our education system?

CARR: Well, it tells us that we need to think about the preparedness of our students as they're leaving the K-12 system.

EMANUEL: And schools, employers, everybody need to do something about it. Gabrielle Emanuel, NPR News.

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