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Raising scores means work at school, home (12/15/2004)
It appears bringing our nation's math scores up to speed with other industrialized countries might be tougher than using an abacus.

Among 29 industrial countries, the United States scored below 20 nations and above five in math, according to the latest international test scores released last week. Overall, U.S. students scored below the international average in total math literacy and in every specific area tested, from geometry and algebra to statistics and computation.

Known as the Program for International Student Assessment, the test is run by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a Paris-based intergovernmental group of industrialized nations. The U.S. math performance was about the same as Poland, Hungary and Spain.

Locally, teachers, parents and students are challenged to do better. And we must do better to compete in the global economy.

It takes time and patience to master math skills, unless you are unusually gifted in the subject -- and only a handful of students in each class fall into that category.

The United States has the right intention of trying to raise achievement among all students, not just average scores. But this requires hard work in the classroom and at home.