Monday, February 23, 2009
Chinese College Students Can Do Math
A recent study published on Science showed the disturbing lagging of students' knowledge in science in the US.
What is more disturbing are the facts that the paper does not reveal. After the central government adopted a policy to stimulate internal consume, the annual enrollment of colleges was increased near 10 times, from less than 600,000 in 1990s to more than 6 millions overnight. Also, in Chinese education system, best universities are those mega-size national universities, and by and large, the quality of the university grows monotone with the number of students it has. In other words, all Chinese students who participated in the study are those who with so poor academic performance that they won't be able to attend a college 10 years ago.
Still these Chinese student were able to beat their US counterparts by a margin of 2:1 in science knowledge. Although the reasoning part showed comparable results, the overall capability of an individual is the product of knowledge and reasoning skills. Therefore, the final result still looks doom for US students.
What's even more disturbing is the shape of the distribution curve with grades of US students, which is almost a perfect shifted normal distribution. We would have expected a budge on the right hand side, which might reflect out liners of the public school systems and those who attend private schools. Alas, there are too few of them that no such budge could be detected.
In short, US won't be able to compete with China in the years to come.